Last night I finally got a chance to sit down with Elliot Schrage, who was recently (well, six months ago) named VP of Global Communications and Public Affairs for Google. I’d been looking forward to meeting him – I’ve worked closely with his brother, author Michael Schrage, in the past, and more to the point, I was intrigued to find out more about the fellow who would be responsible for shepherding Google’s brand from Cute One Note Service to Massive Global Player. Elliot knows global issues – he was previously SVP for Global Affairs at Gap and a Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He got his trial by fire just recently when he had to testify before a group of ornery Congressfolk on the issue of China.
The dinner was off the record, so I can’t really report the details of what we discussed, but I can say that I found Elliot frank, engaging, and self deprecating – but not overly so. He understands the essence of Google’s major challenge – becoming the company the world already expects it to be. As I’ve written elsewhere, I believe the Google brand is in need of message clarification – most folks still see it as that “Aha!” service that changed how they search the Web, but increasingly, it’s also the brand that does deals with Sony Pictures to promote personalized homepages. Clearly, brand strategy is on Schrage’s mind.
David Krane, director of corporate communications at Google and a major champion of my book inside the company, also joined us. Having been at the company for a long time, David is something of a bridge between the past and the future of the Google brand. Both seemed deeply engaged in what struck me as the right questions for the company. I’m glad I had a chance to sit down with them before finishing that last chapter of my paperback. Oh, shit, that was due last month….I better get back to writing…
2 thoughts on “Dinner with Elliot Schrage”
Google doesn’t need a new ‘message’ or ‘brand strategy’. Brand is behaviour. Google needs to look long and hard at its behaviour and change it as needed. The nodes on the network (that is, people) will spread its own (their own) messages about that, as they are already doing. I’m talking individual customers/users as well as the agencies who bring them so much revenue, who are often treated as if they are lucky to have the privilege to work with Google – not as customers who spread the bread on Google’s butter.
Google does not live up to its motto, “Do no evil.”
Google, Yahoo and MSN refused to place ads for websites, http://www.ncjusticefruad.com and http://www.chinaisevil.com. It is my contention that search engines cannot censor their ads based on their political content because they are public forums and/or common carriers that must carry messages for all. There are legal scholars that agree with that position. You can obtain a copy of my lawsuit by: searching
“Christopher Langdon v. Google”; clicking on the 27B Stroke 6″ result; clicking on June 7th on the calendar on the left; and clicking on the “lawsuit (pdf)” link inside the article. My China site has a page called “Googlegag,” that delineates Google’s censorship in America… You are so pro Google, I wonder if you will censor this comment?
Sincerely, Chris Langdon, firstname.lastname@example.org