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Google: the New England Patriots of the Internet

Published: January 25, 2012

Author: Hillary Read

Nobody roots for Goliath. – Wilt Chamberlain
I am an unabashed, die-hard, life-long New England Patriots fan. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, this was – well, if not cool, at least largely sympathetic. (We stunk. Like, 1-15 stunk.) Then came Bill The Self-Promoting, Credit-Taking Conqueror (Parcells) and Drew Bledsoe, then – ignoring Pete Carroll years –  Bill The Grim, You’d-Never-Call-Him-Evil-If-He-Was-Yours Genius (Belichick) and Tom Brady.
Three Super Bowls and one laying-of-waste 18-0 run later, and the ex-Patsies had made cute little underdogs out of the New York Giants. The same Giants who won all the time when the Patriots sucked, the same Giants who enjoy all the revenue fruits of the freaking New York media market, the same Giants who featured daddy’s-boy, silver-spooned, I-don’t-wanna-pway-for-San-Diego quarterback Eli Manning. Cute, plucky underdogs. The nation’s schadenfraude after that freaking Super Bowl would have been understandable, I submit, except that the “underdog” narrative was so nauseating.
And now, the obligatory disclaimer: New Englanders hate New York teams, and vice versa.
Anyway, the upcoming Super Bowl rematch has spawned a resurgence of Patriots hate/envy even in San Francisco – which dovetails very nicely with the fast-building tide of anti-Google sentiment.
To wit:

(Not the most balanced subject line ever.)

(Not that realtors have ever skewed numbers.)
And my favorite, from an article on sports/entertainment site Grantland.com (please squint and read the footnote; it’s worth it):

Google is Goliath; we all know that. I have absolutely pushed this narrative (noticed that I retweeted Matt McGee’s gem), to the extent that our PPC Associates Google rep checked in a couple of months ago asking if “everything was okay” with the relationship (it is).
Google, like the Patriots, was a public darling at the start of its rise to prominence, and both parties have generally done things right. (There are always exceptions. Those raising their hands with protests about Albert Haynesworth and/or the Tuck Rule and/or unseemly losses to the Jets have been acknowledged and may return to your yammering sports talk radio.)
But the Patriots had Spygate. And now Google has the land-grab efforts of Google+ and Search Plus Your World. There are Waterloo-like similarities.
The Patriots were cheating (yup, they were, no matter how established a league-wide practice it might have been). Google is gaming, although there are well-developed arguments that the Google+ and Search Plus Your World sure as shootin’ rigs the deck enough to elicit stronger verbs. The Patriots made the Giants relatable to Everyman; Google is managing to make even Facebook look put-upon. If you were a football fan a few years ago, you couldn’t escape the Patriots’ run at history; if you…well, if you use the internet, it’s gotten awfully hard to escape Google.
But outside the NFL commissioner’s office, Patriots hatred wasn’t really actionable; despite all manner of taunting directed at the Patriots and their fans, here we are again four years later, one of the last teams standing. Google? Now that could be a different story. If people are really fed up, they can at least call a senator (and refrain from buying Androids and getting gmail or youtube accounts).
Will the Patriots win the Super Bowl? I doubt it; the Giants are too hot. Will Google even feel the slingshot pebbles, or will rising antipathy actually force it to change its policies? I have no idea. But if it happens, I’m not going to be designing any cereal boxes.
Hillary Read, Marketing Manager

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