Ananya Pathak

Ok, Google. Hindi mein bolo

In September this year, tech giant Google announced that one could now switch to Hindi language in the updated Google Assistant simply by saying, “Okay, Google. Hindi mein bolo”, without requiring the OS support for local language. To promote the latest feature of its artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant amongst the Hindi speaking belt, Google India launched its latest campaign — #GoogleAssistantHindiMein — last month.

The three 30-seconder films — 'kuch naya seekhein', 'mausam ki jaankari' and 'safalta ki taiyari’— released as a part of the campaign individually feature a female rickshaw driver, an office-boy and retailer using the feature. Riding on social mobility stories, the films are based on the 'Aaj ke sawaalo mein hain kal ke jawaab' ideology.

Google Assistant was unveiled during Google's developer conference on May 18, 2016 and supported Hindi and other Indian languages but the languages could be switched if the OS language was changed to the same. To change the language to Hindi, users needed to activate Hindi language support from the settings option. The latest feature decouples the language from the OS.

Along with Hindi, the app will support eight other Indian languages — Gujarati, Kannada, Urdu, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, and Telugu. Google believes that the new feature will help it reach more Indian users, particularly users who might be comfortable with using English as their device language but like to hold conversations in local languages. As per a Google spokesperson the feature has been rolled out on all Android, Android Go and KaiOs devices. Reportedly, the Assistant's support is available in over 30 languages across 80 countries.

Prior to the announcement, millennials were Google Assistant's core target. Past campaigns were focussed only on English language assistance.

Google Assistant sees competition from Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. Interestingly, the Assistant's new feature was announced a day after Amazon announced that its virtual assistant Alexa, can now converse in Hindi and Hinglish.

Along with the new language changing feature, Google also launched it's Bolo app earlier this year. Available for Android users, the app is designed for native Hindi speakers and helps kids improve their English and Hindi reading skills.

We reached out to industry experts to check if they thought the ads work and whether it will connect with the target audience.

Sidharth Shukla, head, Ogilvy One and chief digital officer, Ogilvy & Mather (North, India), says that the films do a highly effective job in communicating the content and their purpose. “I thought the Taj Mahal film wasn’t as on point as the other two but the other two were spot on in terms of showcasing the levels of interaction as well as the depth of information you can get from the Google Assistant,” he says.

Sidharth Shukla, head, Ogilvy One and chief digital officer, Ogilvy & Mather (North, India).
Sidharth Shukla, head, Ogilvy One and chief digital officer, Ogilvy & Mather (North, India).

We asked him if the product demo in the campaign is clear? “It is very clear, the entire content of the film is built around that and additionally you have ample product window that reinforces the same in the end.”

Commenting on how he thinks the brand should make sure that the intended target audience sees the ad, he says, “I cannot comment on the entire media mix but I would definitely consider leveraging video platforms such as YouTube and Tik Tok, as we know it is a medium used extensively by this TG , micro influencers would be another area to explore.”

Rishabh Dave, creative director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi, opines that the ad communicates what it needs to. “It seems like a straight forward brief, but I wish the execution would have delighted me. The narrative felt a bit flat. The story telling, especially since it isn’t fiction could have been more heart-warming; for example, could the first story have been told from the point of view of the boss? Someone who had been proudly observing the office boy’s transformation from a distance? Maybe I was expecting the same reaction I had to Google’s older long format work,” he shares.

Rishabh Dave, creative director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi.
Rishabh Dave, creative director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi.

Dave feels that product demo is apparent in the films and that to make sure that the intended target audience sees the ad the brand should geo-target through Facebook, and maybe communicate to the Jio database in the country.

Shubho Sengupta, a digital marketer (ex-Contract, JWT), finds it a simple and nice campaign. He comments, “Hindi and regional languages are driving the next 500 million on mobile, and nice to see Google showing leadership.”

Shubho Sengupta, a digital marketer (ex-Contract, JWT).
Shubho Sengupta, a digital marketer (ex-Contract, JWT).

Sengupta mentions that the story in the background makes the product demo memorable. When we asked him about the media mix to engage in to reach the intended target audience, he simply says, “Google owns Google.”

Shobhit Mathur, national creative director, Hakuhodo India.
Shobhit Mathur, national creative director, Hakuhodo India.

Shobhit Mathur, national creative director, Hakuhodo India, says, “What I like about Google ads is that they are always simple, effective and based on insights. And so are these ones. The candid situations and approach adds to the flavor of the films, especially the shopkeeper one. However, I found the office situation a bit laborious.”

“The characters are well chosen and the product demo is almost seamless, which is good considering the target audience. It would be interesting if the brand decided to not go mass media but did a hyperlocal or specific geo-targetting mobile marketing these,” he adds.

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