GOOGLE, Mountain View / GOOGLE / 2022

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Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

A CODA Story used the biggest stage in Hollywood to shed light on the importance of accessibility in everyday moments. To reinforce the importance of—and our commitment to—accessible tech, we partnered with ABC and the Academy of Arts and Sciences to sponsor accessibility features like closed captions and, for the first time ever, audio descriptions for the show’s blind and low vision viewers. The partnership made that night the most-accessible Oscars event to date, and helped ensure everyone could experience a milestone moment in media representation for the disability community.


COVID-19 forced the world to rely on virtual communication and for many of the 466 million people who are deaf and hard of hearing, this sudden change multiplied existing inequities in everyday interactions—video calls aren’t accommodating to sign language, and masks make lip reading impossible. But, with the help of assistive technologies like Live Caption and Captioning in Google Meet, people could connect in ways that weren’t possible before.

Accessibility stories are rarely told in advertising, often taking a back seat to ads focused on gender and racial equity. This was an incredible opportunity to showcase the need for, and Google’s commitment to, accessibility tech while telling a truly intersectional story—one of an Asian American family in the disability community in a climate where representation of these communities is critical. “A CODA Story” launched on Oscars Night as the first-ever commercial on accessibility to air on broadcast television.

Describe the creative idea

“A CODA Story” tells the true story of Googler Tony Lee, a CODA (“Child of Deaf Adults”), and his family who found ways to connect during a pandemic with the help of automatic captioning. Tony’s story brought to light the impact and importance of Google’s accessible technologies in times of crisis, but also in the everyday moments that are often taken for granted.

To further emphasize the need for—and Google’s commitment to building—accessible and inclusive tech, we partnered with ABC and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to sponsor closed captions and, for the first time, audio descriptions for deaf, blind, and low vision viewers. These additional accessibility features made the 2021 ceremony the most accessible Oscars night to date.

Describe the strategy

The pandemic only exacerbated existing inequities in the accessibility space, while also bringing new and profound barriers to communication—especially so for those in the deaf and hard of hearing communities. With this in mind, we wanted to demonstrate Google’s positive impact by telling a real story in which our products and innovations in assistive technology are helping to make the world a more accessible place, both in extraordinary times and the everyday.

Describe the execution

“A CODA Story” launched during the broadcast of the Academy Awards and sponsored the closed captioning and audio descriptions for the show, making it the most accessible Oscars in its 93 years. Alongside our broadcast efforts launched on 4/25/21, we supported “A CODA Story” with digital video on YouTube, and then paid social efforts across Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram.

In addition to telling this story in paid media, we worked with Deaf artist and advocate Jessica Marie Flores who illustrated and animated ASL hand gestures to help teach our audience ASL phrases that were trending in Search. We featured Jessica’s animations on our social and digital channels.

List the results

We received 380M paid digital impressions, and 154.5M combined views across YouTube, Social, FEP, and Programmatic marketing. Additionally,”A CODA Story” was incredibly well-received by media outlets, and even named the 6th best moment of Oscar night by The Today Show.

Aside from quantifiable metrics, we received an outpouring of tweets and mentions from audience members sharing their personal reactions to the film—many of whom were part of the deaf and hard of hearing community and were seeing themselves represented on screen for the very first time.

Please tell us about the social behaviour that inspired the work

While the pandemic brought the world as we knew it to a halt, an entirely new one emerged online just as quickly. From work, to school, to grocery shopping; every aspect of life now existed virtually. And while society sometimes struggled to adapt, humanity always prevailed. From virtual baby showers, family reunions, and weddings, to strangers singing to each other from the windows of their apartments, people sought out, and needed, human connection more than ever.

At the same time, this new, virtually connected world compounded existing inequities in the disability community; and for those who are deaf and hard of hearing, brought particularly difficult barriers to overcome.

“A CODA Story” was inspired by both the innate human need for connection and the beauty of finding it and keeping it close, despite all odds.

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