“Hey Google, show me photos of me and Loretta. Remember? She always snorted when she laughed.”
Hearing an elderly man tell his Google Assistant to remind him of happy memories of his late-wife, Google’s “Loretta” Super Bowl LIV commercial had nearly 115 million people feeling collectively emotional for 90 seconds.
Behind the advertisement was Jesse Juriga, creative director at Google Creative Lab and 2005 alumnus from Michigan State University.
“We didn’t set out to make a Super Bowl ad. We have a wonderful team that includes filmmakers, animators, writers — all kinds of creatives,” Juriga said. “The team was thinking about the Google Assistant, and a designer was playing around with a recording of her grandfather's voice. It quickly came together with the details of her grandfather's life, and we kept his voice as the voiceover in the final ad.”
Juriga believes that the “Loretta” commercial, like similar ads from Google, was a product demonstration with a human element.
According to a Google blog post, the ad reflects its goal to build products that help people in their daily lives, in both big and small ways.
“It’s a demonstration about how helpful the Google Assistant is, but it’s told in a human way,” Juriga said. “I think people related to the universality of the story. At its core, it’s a demo with heart, and I think we do that well.”
Juriga, a native of Belleville, Michigan, chose to attend MSU because of the university’s renowned study abroad programs. As a student, he completed two programs abroad — one in Rome as a sophomore and in Bangkok as a junior.
“Being outside of my comfort zone with new people taught me a very important lesson:
That while the specifics of our lives change — where we live, our age, what language we speak — our stories are similar,” Juriga said. “They all revolve around the stories of life — love, loss, regret, perseverance and joy. My experiences as a student helped me see that and fall in love with a good story.”
After graduating, Juriga enrolled in the Creative Circus, an advertising school in Atlanta, where he studied art direction. He was then hired by Droga5 in New York, where he worked for five years on award-winning campaigns, including Puma’s “After Hours Athlete.” He then moved to BBH NYC, where he was the creative director of the Google Chrome account and created the acclaimed “Dear Sophie” ad.
Since moving in-house at Google, Juriga’s campaigns have not only appeared during Super Bowl games, but also the Grammy Awards, the Oscars and the Olympics.
“Recently, I was the creative lead on a two-year project with the LGBTQ Center of New York in recording oral histories of more than 100 LGBTQ veterans in the creation of the Stonewall Forever Monument, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots,” Juriga said. "Personally, that was the one thing I am most proud of.”
Juriga’s work brought both laughter and tears to millions of people over the years. Loretta, the most recent, quite simply took his breath away.
“I watched the Super Bowl at home and my husband was on a flight when it aired. He sent me a picture on the plane of all the TVs in the different seats playing the commercial at the same time — dozens of white screens playing our little story,” Juriga said. “To have something you’ve made — even just an ad — be seen by more than 115 million people at the same time is quite daunting. As it played, I realized I didn't take a breath for the entire first half of the ad.”