The Dan Savage It Gets Better Project has been wildly successful because it focuses on an urgent problem in this country, namely, teens driven to suicide because of anti-gay bullying, and delivers a simple, yet honest and universally-relatable offering: the promise, in the form of over 10,000 videos, that “it gets better.” Google, in the form of their Chrome Internet browser, partnered with Dan Savage and his It Gets Better Project, and produced a video, which premiered during this week’s “Glee,” that has many saying wow — mostly, “Wow, that’s beautiful,” but one LGBT blogger coming out and calling it “blood money.”
For the record, I think the It Gets Better Project is brilliant. And also for the record, I think Google working with Dan Savage to promote the project is great. Savage is an often divisive figure who often speaks first and thinks later, but that can be beneficial in some arenas — and Savage is no stranger to success. (Neither is Google.)
Let’s take a moment to remember “September’s Anti-Gay Bullying Suicides – There Were A Lot More Than 5,” and that a conservative socio-political environment “strongly contributes to suicide rate numbers.”
The video itself has been called, “beautiful,” and “astounding,” while one writer says, “something about the partnership strikes me as off,” and another, Bil Browning, founder of the popular and often controversial LGBT blog, Bilerico, calls the partnership, “blood money.”
“When the ad came on during Glee at our house, we were hosting a small group of folks – some politically savvy and others just, well, not,” Browning writes. “The ad was booed and given cat-calls from around the room,” adding, “it wasn’t an ad for the It Gets Better Project. It just wasn’t. Everyone was excited for IGB when it started airing. Everyone thought, “How great that they’re getting this commercial out there in a spot where it can really hit LGBT kids!”
“But then we saw that it was actually an ad for a Google product and Dan Savage. They, literally, are trying to make dollars off of our children.”
I have to say I disagree.
If I ran the world, or, at lest, if I ran Google, (which at this point might be a close second,) I would have spent all that money, time, effort, and relationship-building that went into the ad, to make it an ad for the It Gets Better Project. Maybe somehow added a PBS-style note, “brought to you by…” to get credit.
But the world is different, and co-branding offers benefits all-around. Sometime one plus one equals a lot more than two.
I have no doubt the It Gets Better Project has gotten a lot more traffic, donations, and respect after the ad. And I have no doubt Google’s Chrome browser has benefitted similarly.
And maybe, just maybe, the fact that one of the world’s largest and most-respected companies is saying to LGBT kids — and the world, that they are valuable and important, and offering hope, is a value-added benefit.
Sometimes, the medium is the message.
And sometimes, it’s not only the message, but the messenger, who is able to get the point across.
(Oh, and here’s one of my favorite Google videos.)
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