Alex Blaze

Google's It Gets Better Ad

Filed By Alex Blaze | May 04, 2011 7:00 AM | comments

Filed in: You Gotta See This
Tags: Google, it gets better, suicide

Google runs an ad that's not really an It Gets Better video, but more to show that their various products can be used to view the videos and to associate their brand (for the purpose of profit) with a sincere attempt to reduce gay teen suicide.

The person who emailed this in said he didn't like it, while other gay bloggers think it's awesome. It is literally an attempt to cash in on gay teen suicide, so we should definitely be skeptical, although some people might think the good outweighs the bad.

Personally, I'm still waiting for Google execs to stop acting like the exact stereotype of limousine liberals who want to stop paying taxes, hate the poor, but also think that diversity is hip before I give them credit for any political advocacy, and the same goes for most big tech firms.


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I was fortunate to see Dan Savage speak at UW-Milwaukee last night, and he mentioned this ad while talking about the It Gets Better Project. Google approached him and Terry about doing the ad, and he was skeptical at first as well. But when they met with Google, and saw the ad, he said he thought it did a good job of portraying the project in a positive light without over-selling Google's product.
They told him they planned to run this during Glee and American Idol. He convinced them that the places this really needs to be run are during the NBA Playoffs and other TV shows where the typical audience isn't your average 30 year old gay male, but rather where a teenager who is in the closet, and can't watch Glee or American Idol at home with their parents for fear of retribution, might see it. Google agreed, and is running it in non-traditionally gay shows as well.

Alex, I sometimes enjoy your unique take on things, and while I almost never totally agree with you, you certainly make me see things in a way I might never have otherwise considered. However, I strongly object to this post.

First, the ad is certainly not "literally an attempt to cash in on gay teen suicide." The worst that could honestly be said about it is it is an attempt to cash in by highlighting google's attempts to help people prevent gay teen suicide. The two things are miles apart. It's a bit shameful you would so insult a company so clearly on the right side of this issue.

Next, you characterize google's executives as "acting like the exact stereotype of limousine liberals." You characterize limousine liberals as wanting lower taxes and hating the poor. Initially, your statement is not clear, because you say these people "act like" people who hate the poor and want lower taxes which is not the same as people who "do" hate the poor and want lower taxes. But even taken at its worst, what evidence have you presented that these evil, heartless google executives hate the poor or want lower taxes? My search for such evidence turns up nothing.

Finally, google does not merely demonstrate that their products can be "used to view the videos." Google's YouTube, one of the advertised products, is the entire reason the project was even possible. Before YouTube, video hosting was a remarkably expensive proposition. Now, google allows you to post anything to the site, and they pay for the streaming. Google allows you to embed the video in your site, so you don't need to even see ads they host, and I've never seen an ad in a "It Gets Better" video at all. Google effectively bankrolls the most expensive part of the entire proposition for free.

I have no particular love of google. I do not own their stock. I do not work there. I do not even have a friend or a relative who has a financial interest in google. But this was shoddy, counterproductive journalism on your part, and it needed to be pointed out.

Re taxes, here's an interview with their CEO talking about how Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid need to be cut so he doesn't get a tax hike (although he doesn't use those exact words since it's very unpolitical to do so):

http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1010/22/ps.01.html

We can debate on whether or not he actually hates the poor or whether he tough-loves the poor and thinks that forcing the elderly to move in with their children (and if they don't have children there's always a refrigerator box in an alley). Perhaps "hate" was too strong a word.

Here's info on how they route profits through Bermuda to knock $3 billion off their tax bill:

http://gawker.com/#!5670018/googles-3-billion-tax-dodge

Here's info on how three top google execs converted their incomes to stock options to avoid the already small (for their income) payroll tax:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-dollar_salary

Only two are still doing that.

About cashing in, I would say that all attempts to solve a problem that involve someone getting money are cashing in on that problem (the idea behind having a nonprofit industry is that those organizations aren't motivated by maximizing profit, although individuals within those organizations can still be motivated by greed and careerism). I wasn't saying that that's terrible or something people shouldn't do, but it shouldn't be completely ignored either.

Google would not have made this ad if they didn't think they would make money from it. It's easier to get people to their sites and to use their products if people feel fuzzy about their brand, and people are more likely to feel fuzzy about their brand if they associate it with something good like the IGB project.

Anyway, I just opened an IGB video in another tab and I got an add for Allianz France, an auto insurer. They have a great product there in YouTube that I use too, but it's a business, not a charitable organization.

Uh, bitter, party of one? What's with the Google-hating? Given that Google is giving its employees in same-sex relationships extra cash to cover their partners’ health benefits, and that they publicly opposed Prop 8 (and donated $140K to "No on 8")--two real, demonstrable actions that are nearly impossible to find among other Fortune 50 companies--I don't see how you view them as 'limousine liberals'. Yes, Google diddles with the US tax scheme like just about every multinational, but their support of the LGBT community isn't just talk. And, no, I don't work for Google, but I do use Chrome.

their "diddles" cost America $3 billion last year. Perhaps that's not their fault and you can blame the US tax code, but it's not like they're lobbying for a change.

And, yeah, taking that sort of money from the country and then going on CNN to demand Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid can make a person bitter.

Our entire room of people watching Glee started shouting at the TV when they realizes it wasn't and It Gets Better commercial, it was a Google Chrome commercial for Dan Savage. Because, let's remember, it wasn't a commercial for IGB. That wasn't the tagline. It was a Dan Savage commercial.

"Dan Savage commercial"? I don't think so. Technically, it seemed more like an ad for YouTube, demonstrating its capability in sending a message (hence the phrase "Dan Savage, Messenger"), and using ItGetsBetter as an example. I didn't see any exhortation to go out and buy Dan's book, or listen to his podcast (if he's got one), or visit his website (if he's got one), or sign up for his self improvement classes (if he's got those). And if this commercial gets one concerned parent or confused teen to visit itgetsbetter.org as a result, then it's worth it. If the commercial had featured the Gates foundation, would you think it's a commercial for Microsoft?

I didn't see it that way since the ad didn't talk about anything else Savage does other than IGB.

And I don't see the problem with Dan Savage having an ad either.

From the CNN transcript, it appears the FIRST thing Google suggested we cut is defense (which I strongly disagree with).

Yes, I agree that exploiting the tax code doesn't quite jibe with 'don't be evil', but the tone of the post suggest Google doesn't give a flying f*ck about us gays and is only going for the pink dollar because they are a typical greedy corporation. However, their actions clear demonstrate otherwise; unlike other companies that think 'diversity is hip', Google isn't just talking about it, but doing something about it, too.

redbeardedguy | May 5, 2011 1:05 AM

I am a member of and write for poormagazine dot org, and if you know what that is, hey, we and i have pretty strong opinions about people who hate the poor.

That said, I think you need to have pretty clear proof that somebody is expressing clear filthy mcnastiness before you start tossing around the comments I'm responding to.

Could Google have run an ad that left them completely invisible? I think they could. What I saw is an effing GREAT AD!!! I'm impressed. The "we're Google" part of it is warp speed non-verbal, and it gets to the really good stuff fast.

I'd rather scream at Google for going into China and BEING EEEEEE-VIL. I'd rather scream at Google for how they, and Amazon dot com, and others are making things tough for writers and publishers.

I just signed a change dot org petition against the HarperCollins "Mission Impossible"-like self-destructing e-book they are selling to libraries. Let's jump up and down and howl about that stuff, which is clearly eeeee-vil, before we jump up and down and think about saying bad things about something that isn't eeeee-vil at all!

The thing that I do think you are overlooking is that Google, at least as far as I recall, ran the first national gay positive ad in prime time on a major network. This wasn't an ad where a gay couple was simply included or obliquely mentioned. This ad was about our community, our kids, our seniors, our allies. Part of the message in this commercial is that they are unapologetically proud of their association with the gay community.

Companies highlighting their efforts as "good corporate citizens" (as the ad mavens term it) are common. But Google had plenty of opportunities to highlight other good that they have done in less controversial arenas. They could've highlighted how their software was used to reunite families after the Tsunami in Japan or any number of similar projects. But those chose to help highlight a program that gives gay kids hope.

Yes Google is not perfect and their efforts were not altruistic. But they are a business and altruism is province of non-profits. If I have a choice between a business using their brand and money to work against us, like Target, or work for us, like Google, I'll take Google.

In the end, I look at the collateral benefit as well. 8.8 million viewers watched Glee. In addition to gay kids that found the site How many of them checked out the site afterwards and saw videos by gay families, gay soldiers, gay elders and gay teens. We often say that people understand our quest for rights once they get to know a gay person. Seeing those videos may even help our larger cause.