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Google aims for cute with Super Bowl ad

The video ad, called "Parisian Love," had been on YouTube since November. But that didn't stop Super Bowl viewers from giving it a generally positive reception.

It was Google's first-ever Super Bowl ad--and one of their few TV spots at all, to boot. On Sunday, during the third quarter of Super Bowl XLIV, the Mountain View, Calif., tech giant aired an ad called "Parisian Love," featuring a Valentine's-worthy romance spelled out in Google search queries.

The queries flow chronologically from "study abroad paris france" through "how to impress a french girl" and "what are truffles" to "long-distance relationship advice" and finally "how to assemble a crib." Awwwww.

Buzz about Google's Super Bowl ad started spreading when CEO Eric Schmidt implied in a Twitter post that there would be one during the third quarter. There had been rumors--which turned out to be untrue--that Google's ad would feature the Nexus One smartphone. As it turns out, the "Parisian Love" ad has been on YouTube since November 19 as part of Google's "Search Stories" ad campaign--which had been online-only until the Super Bowl. It had chalked up over a million views on YouTube.

Unoriginal? Maybe. It didn't showcase anything totally new from Google, as search is the company's longstanding lifeblood. Plus, it was online already--Federated Media CEO John Battelle, who has written a book about Google, correctly speculated it would run during the game--and the "Search Stories" ads have already been famously parodied by opinion site Slate, which used the structure to make fun of Tiger Woods' notoriety.

"Parisian Love" also might've been considered, in any other context, to be eye-rollingly sappy. But this time, it was a breath of fresh air in a Super Bowl where the ads were dominated by dude-oriented spots that ranged from fratty (three bachelor party survivors wind up with a live orca whale in their SUV, courtesy of Bridgestone tires) to hey-don't-worry-bro-you're-still-manly (the ad for Dove body products for men) to borderline offensive (the Dodge Charger ad that featured stoic-looking men going through a litany of girlfriend complaints).

Makes you wonder if Larry and Sergey's marketing team knew how good they'd look in comparison.

Disclosure: CNET is owned by CBS, the network that aired Super Bowl LXIV.