This weekend, Google did something it (to the best of my knowledge) has never done before: it started promoting one of its products using a television ad.

That product is Google’s browser, Chrome.

The ad, which you can view here, was created by the Google Japan team and is being distributed using Google TV Ads. The goal of the exercise: “raise awareness of our browser, and also help us better understand how
television can supplement our other online media campaigns
“.

There’s only one problem: the ad comes pretty close to being the worst television ad I’ve ever seen. The reason? As you can see from watching it, the ad wastes ~30 seconds saying a whole lot of nothing. At the end, it asks the viewer to “Install Google Chrome” but offers no explanation of what Google Chrome is and why anyone should be interested in using it. While a good ad doesn’t necessarily have to be explicitly descriptive, it does have to offer something that connects with the viewer and sparks his or her curiosity. In my opinion, there’s nothing in Google’s Chrome ad that appeals to a mainstream audience.

On a best practices note, the viewer is not provided with any URL to download Chrome. Yes, we all know how to get to Google but there’s absolutely reason not to display ‘http://www.google.com/chrome‘ in the ad. If you’re going to promote something online in your ad, you include a URL. Common sense, right?

All in all, Google’s foray into television advertising is not an inspiring one. To be fair to Google, it’s never really had to promote itself in this fashion. Ostensibly Google is serious about making Chrome a winner but with its marketshare still well below 2%, it’s clear that Google isn’t going to be able to rely solely on its brand to get people to use Chrome. It’s actually going to have to market Chrome actively. Hence the experiment with this television ad.

A word of advice to Google: if you’re serious about advertising Chrome on television, hire an agency. One is definitely needed ASAP.

Photo credit: Nima… via Flickr.