If you watch videos on YouTube at all, you’ve seen it and you hate it. Eyeless gangly armed cartoons skate across a white background while a man sings about how Google Fi is the “phone plan that can.” The 15 second jingle is like an icepick in my eye. It’s short enough that YouTube won’t let you skip it and it seems to play in front of every video I’ve viewed for the past six months. Sometimes it plays twice in a row.
Judging by the comments on the video on YouTube, I’m not alone in my hatred. “It’s really rare for an ad to be so annoying that I look it up to complain, so I guess that’s kind of an accomplishment,” Vallam23 said one month ago.
“It’s already horrific but the fact that you can’t skip it after five seconds is truly evil,” spencer said.
“Most overpaid marketing team in history: ‘Let’s just make random beats with some copy from these keynote slides and hope it annoys people so much they switch to Google Fi!’” William Smith said.
“Google: ‘Perfection! Driving away customers isn’t even a thing for us, we force everyone to already use our products whether they want to or not!’”
“Art teachers should play these commercials just to show how to be a success in the field, sometimes you have to be a soulless subhuman,” said Bill Brasky.
“This song makes me actually want to fill my ears with cement,” said Pine Apple.
“This is exactly the kind of out of touch audio visual garbage I would expect from a soulless corporation like Google,” joshua hensley said.
“‘What do the kids like these days?’” Sephivon asked. “It sure as hell isn't this.”
“This heinous commercial is what you get when millionaire executives force underlings to illustrate an executive’s clueless impressions of social collectivism,” said Jud Judersawn.
“It's almost astonishing the kind of incandescent rage that this ad fills me with. The last time I felt the urge to pull my own ears off this strongly I was listening to that ‘Johnny Johnny’ song,” Jacob Steven Mohr Books said.
“Since the ads won't let me give this a thumbs down, I came here to do it,” JediNiyte said.
“How Doom guy gets angry enough to kill everything,” Dapper Krogan said.
“I finally broke down and looked up this ad because it grated my nerves so badly and now I feel like I’ve found a community with my fellow haters of this thing and it’s many awful variants,” Doug Hale said in the comments. “There’s a kind of smug, hip, self-satisfied vibe with this song and the animation that just…argh!”
Hale’s comment nails what makes the ad so infuriating. The surreal limbed cartoons do not smile, they smugly grin. The upbeat Schoolhouse Rock style music sings from the perspective not of a person who needs a new phone plan, but from that of a person who has already joined Google Fi and now lives in a secure and happy world unlike the one you inhabit. It dares say: join Google Fi and all your problems will be solved. You’ll live in a happy primary colored wonderland free of internet-born dangers.
Most infuriating for me, is that I already have Google Fi. I’ve had it a long time and I like the service but this ad is so fucking obnoxious that it makes me want to switch carriers. That I already have the service being advertised grates more. It’s a small injustice, but it always feels like a crime when someone forces me to sit through an advertisement for a service I already own. You won! Leave me alone! Forcing me to watch this thing three times in a row before viewing the latest Red Letter Media video is just rubbing my face in it.
I have found some solace in the remixes and parodies that have cropped up, but it’s cold comfort. Most are simple. There is “Hello Google Fi A a phone plan that can(t)” which recuts the advertisement so it says the exact opposite of its pitch and several rants against the ad. My personal favorite is “Hello google fi, a phone plan that can-go to hell,” in which the ad plays verbatim and then a child reads mean comments about it aloud for 30 seconds.
The only way to avoid seeing these ads is with a robust ad blocking service or by paying Google $15 a month for YouTube red, which lets you avoid advertisements entirely. This feels like a hostage situation. I don’t know that Google is deploying obnoxious 30 second soundbites ahead of every video to break people down into buying it’s premium subscription service. It’s not something I can prove.
But it feels true and every time I see a Google Fi ad I get a little closer to breaking down and paying YouTube whatever it takes to never hear the damn thing again.