A Complete History of Google’s Nexus Commercials
Nexus One — Jan 2010
This was the first ad for the Nexus One. Hardware and software get equal billing, with the phone’s pencil-like thinness, 800x480 3.7 inch display and 5 megapixel camera being shown off. Google’s services, like Maps and YouTube, get their apps shown off and towards the end highlights how developers have freedom to make any app for Android. The ad opens and closes with the tagline that the One is a web phone that can do a multitude of tasks. Of interest is how the URL for the product is google.com/phone and did not have any references to Nexus as a line of products.
The Nexus One also had a series of videos showing off the making of the device: Concept & Design, Display & 3D Framework, Testing, Manufacturing, and Day One. Close collaboration with HTC is touted throughout.
Nexus S —Dec 2010
This Nexus S commercial shows the phone going through daily use and highlights various software features. The ad’s clever in that it’s shot with the same downward POV and position that we use our phones.
A more spec heavy and much shorter ad for TV highlights the Contour Display, Front and Back Camera, the Gingerbread OS, and the fact the phone is Unlocked. It has closer up shots and spins of the device and ends on the phone being ‘Pure Google’. This is much closer to the mission Nexus carries today even with the URL now being google.com/nexus.
Another ad, in the same vain of highlighting specs features 4 robotic arms in Google colors:
Galaxy Nexus — 2011
A very Tron-esque ad featuring the Android mascot on Light Bikes shows off how fast the Galaxy Nexus is and Ice Cream Sandwich’s very new user interface.
A narrated ad shows people using the Galaxy Nexus as well as ICS’s features: Face Unlock, Android Beam, Camera with Panoramic Mode, Google+ with Hangouts, Voice Typing. Again, the ‘Pure Google’ tagline is used.
The Face Unlock feature makes for many funny commercials including a boy trying and failing to unlock his father’s phone.
Google+ with Hangouts is used to show friends video conferencing with their phones to a song, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and beat boxing.
Nexus 4, 7, 10 — 2012
The Nexus 4 was used to show off Google Now in ads. It shows people in various cities at the same time mostly using Now to tell them about their reminders, the weather, restaurant recommendations, and translating.
Towards holiday season of 2011 and after the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets were announced, the three devices were shown off together in an ad campaign. ‘Pure Google’ now the ‘Best of Google, now in three sizes’. These ads mostly show off Google’s now much improved voice detection and output (listen to the computer voice become much more natural sounding when compared to the voice in the first 2010 Nexus One ad). It also conditions people to swipe up to access Google Now and ask a question.
Google’s recently rebranded Play Store also receives top billing and shows off various movies and books from there. It makes the case that these devices can be used for content consumption.
Nexus Q — 2012
Alas, the Nexus Q, killed much too soon. Here’s a product video to reminisce over your sphereness and spinny top.
Nexus 5 — 2013
All of the of Nexus 5’s ads heavily feature its camera as well as the Google+ Photos backend.
Nexus 7 — 2013
The second Nexus 7 was heavily shown off in ads. Notably about this ads was how less on specs they were and more about people just using them. One of the better ones involved a kid nervous about making a speech and researching using Google Search how to get over public speaking:
Nexus 6 and 9 — 2014
The ads showing off the Nexus 6 and 9 are rather generic. Product views of the device and key specs set to the same song. Completely gone is the people actually using the device and I do not recall seeing these commercials on television.
Nexus 5X and 6P — 2015
These ads are in the same vain as last year’s; the generic music being replaced by well known songs (Lean On by Major Lazer and Tongues by Joywave). People are reporting seeing shorter versions of these ads on television. The 6 and 9 were non-sellers and their lack of proper advertising speaks to that. With the 5X and 6P already seeing ads on national television, it might show how Google has big plans for these two devices. The much cheaper 5X might become a mass market hit of Google really gets behind it.
Analysis and Some Thoughts
As I wrote above, Google rather stumbled with the 6 and 9. The ads for the 2nd generation Nexus 7 were rather good and made a play for people’s feels and heartstrings. Google got really serious about advertising their Nexus 4, 7, and 10 line during the 2012 holiday season. The 2 former devices were very affordable when viewed against the competition. I remember seeing ads on TV, Hulu, and in print magazine. The 5X and 6P are possibly a return to Google advertising their flagships to the mainstream public
Watching these 5 years of ads, I noticed how Google Earth and Street View are consistently showed off in the early days. They do make for flashy ads and provide momentary fun, but are not necessarily the most practical feature. The same can be said of video chatting. Slightly more useful, but not fully practical.
The showcasing of Google Now and Search is a solid bet. They are differentiating features that are utterly futuristic and can provide genuine use in a person’s day to day life. This also make for a unique competitive advantage against other operating systems. Highlighting those two things would be a good idea to sell the 5X and 6P. Additionally, as all Android devices have those features and showcasing them makes for “arising tide lifts all boats” situation that is ultimately beneficial for the entire ecosystem.