Great advertisements not only exist in the private sector. Creativity can also be found in advocacy campaigns of NGOs and international organizations. This is the ad that strikes me most recently.



Here’s a simple and powerful campaign idea from UN Women using real suggested search terms from Google’s autocomplete feature. The “Auto-Complete Truth” campaign exploded across social media and generated worldwide discussion, aka gone viral. “This campaign uses the world’s most popular search engine (Google) to show how gender inequality is a worldwide problem. The adverts show the results of genuine searches, highlighting popular opinions across the Internet.” said by the creator, Christopher Hunt from Ogilvy & Mather Dubai.


This campaign, however, also raised concerns and debates. Some people thought that the creators edit the results of the Google searches you did for this campaign. In a follow up interview by Adweek, a question was raised about whether they have taken out some irrelevant suggestions or even edited the results to focus on the most egregious examples of sexism. According to Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, none of the searches were engineered to produce the results. In order to raise awareness of the inequality women face, they did choose to highlight the most compelling answers, to deliver the most impact, however the search results from Google autocorrect were not falsified in any way.


I think the reasons for the success for the UN Women campaign are truth and simplicity. With eye-catching images (carefully included different demographics) and autocomplete results, the ads caught people’s attention and encouraged them to search it on Google. When they realized that what the ads were telling was true, they were then educated and might start concerning this issue.


So tell me, my dear readers, do you think the creator had edited the results of the autocomplete?

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2 Responses to Auto-Complete?

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks for the interesting blog post, Siyu!

    I just googled it to see for myself what happens- when I type in “women shouldn’t,” the results that come up are “work,” “be in combat,” and “vote.” When I type in “men shouldn’t,” however, the results are “wear flip flops,” “marry,” and “wear shorts.” A bit of a difference there! I’m not an expert on how Google decides to show the search terms, but I think the message this ad presents stands on its own, regardless of technical details.

    I think people will always try to tear things down. The criticisms against this campaign are weak, in my opinion. If they took out irrelevant suggestions, or only went with the extreme examples, the fact that there are still search results that say those things are troubling. Even if they completely made up the search results, just read the comments that people post on articles that present these advertisements. They’re often on par with the google search terms. Personally, I think it’s a powerful and clever advertisement.

    Thanks for pointing it out!

    • Siyu says:

      Thanks Elizabeth for your comment and thanks for doing the search! I guess this is what the creators want.

      I agreed with you in that it’s fine even if they did take out some results to make the point in this campaign. But do you think it’s OK if a commercial ad takes advantage of the auto-complete to promote the products (if they take out some results to make the point)?