See Google's Emotional Oscars Spot About the Deaf Community During Covid

Story of Tony Lee is the brand at its best

As it's done so often in the past, Google on Sunday chose a high-profile telecast to unveil one of its most beautiful pieces of advertising creative—this time, a poignant spot about how its products have helped people in the deaf and hard-of-hearing community communicate during Covid.

"A CODA Story," which aired during the 2021 Oscars, tells the tale of Tony Lee, a lead designer at Google Brand Studio who is also a child of deaf adults (CODA). The spot is told in Google's typically evocative style, using a combination of animated Google screenshots and real-life video footage to show how Tony has been able to use Google products—including Live Caption and captioning in Google Meet—to video chat with his parents, both of whom are deaf.

This communication has become more pressing for both sides recently, as the spot makes emotionally clear in the best way.

The spot harkens back to classic Google spots like "Dear Sophie," "Parisian Love" and "Loretta." The Google Brand Studio team, which created the spot, says it consulted with the inclusive marketing team at Google, deaf advocates and academics, as well as deaf influencers to ensure accurate representation and messaging. 

The spot also features music from Raphaelle Thibaut.

"Google is committed to making sure disabled people are represented in the work we do, and the stories we tell," says KR Liu, head of brand accessibility at Google Brand Studio. "The deaf and hard of hearing community have contributed tremendously to our innovation at Google. Now more than ever, technology is helping us stay connected and allowing us to support each other through important life moments."

Google is also airing a second spot on Sunday's Academy Awards. "An Octopus Story," which you can see below, features clips from My Octopus Teacher which is nominated for Best Documentary.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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