Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Google Exec Vic Gundotra’s Second Gig: Mercedes Spokesman

Why is Google’s Vic Gundotra appearing in a TV ad testifying about how a Mercedes saved his life?

Advertising Age has the answer: Because Vic Gundotra’s Mercedes saved his life.

There’s no other backstory here, says the trade pub: After the software in Gundotra’s car prevented a collision, Google’s social products guru jotted off a handwritten thank-you note to Mercedes. And then a marketing exec there thought it would be cool if Gundotra told the story on camera.

Gundotra wasn’t paid, and AdAge doesn’t mention any other corporate tie-in between the two companies. But even if that’s the case, the two of them get to burnish each other’s brand, which isn’t a bad thing.

The ad has been running since July, though I haven’t seen one in the wild myself; my hunch is that will change once football season kicks off this week.

Bonus points to ex-Googler David Bloom for noting, on Quora, that Gundotra isn’t the only tech bigwig to promote a car on TV. Here’s Apple’s Steve Wozniak hawking Datsuns many moons ago.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald