How a Blind Director Helped Make Google's Big Game Commercial

Pixel 8's AI documents a life in photos

Which brand will take home the 2024 Super Clio for the best Super Bowl commercial? We'll find out on Feb. 12.

Most of us take our ability to snap pics with our smartphones for granted. However, it's no simple task for people who are blind or have low vision.

Which is why, according to Google, the Pixel 8 with integrated Guided Frame is a game-changer. The AI-powered accessibility feature detects objects, people and pets and speaks to user, advising them how to position their handsets to capture an image.

The company demonstrates in "Javier in Frame," an endearing Super Bowl ad that airs during the 2nd quarter.

Google enlisted Smuggler's Adam Morse, who is blind, to direct the commercial. The British-born Morse lost most of his eyesight at the age of 19 due to a mitochondrial disease called Lebers Hereditary Optic Neuropathy.

The spot follows Javier, a blind man, as he starts a family with his partner, Nikki. They chronicle the big moments of their journey through images he shoots with his Guided Frame-equipped Pixel.

Google | Javier in Frame

Morse, Google Creative Lab and GUT developed the :60. The ad is instructive as well as heartwarming. It's impossible not to feel the joy as Javier and Nikki's love story unfolds.

"Google is at its best when we are able to tell human stories," says Armando Samuels, Google creative lead, devices and services marketing, when asked about the thinking behind the commercial.

"Historically, when you look at our body of work, our goal is always to show what our intention is. It's not just talking about our features and about ourselves," Samuels continues. "It's, how do our features and how do our products make the world better? How do we help people?"

As for Morse, his disability hasn't stopped him from making a mark in filmmaking. He write and directed Lucid, a feature film starring Billy Zane released on Amazon in 2020.

"He was our dream director to work with, and we got lucky that we got him," says Ricardo Casal, GUT chief creative officer. "He was so positive, full of energy, charismatic, always with a smile and always with a positive thought."

Morse was also generous when it came to educating the creative team, Casal recalls, answering all questions about what it's like to operate in the world as a blind person.

And the director dispelled stereotypes.

"People think that blindness means, I have to be with a guide dog, or I have to have glasses, or I only see pitch black," Samuels explains. "He allowed us to understand it is a spectrum."

That understanding was key in helping the entire team recreate what it means to experience the world as a person with low visibility. "Stories like this, you can never stop crafting them," Samuels says.

In a "Javier in Frame" making of video released on YouTube, Morse shares his thoughts on the difference between sight and vision and explains how he works as a filmmaker who happens to be blind.

CLICK HERE to watch all of this year's Super Bowl commercials as they're released. 

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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