Google is giving the upcoming film "The Internship" a marketing assist, offering it what's arguably the most exclusive placement on the web: the Google home page.
The movie trailer is being released today, and this afternoon the two co-stars are talking about the film in a Google "Hangout" video chat hosted by Conan O'Brien. Google has promoted the chat under the search box on Google.com, but later this afternoon will swap that out for a link to a political-themed Hangout.
Google has historically reserved that prime real estate to promote its own products, like the Nexus 7 tablet it featured in August. Google notably used it for political advocacy in January 2012 when it protested the anti-piracy SOPA bill before Congress by putting a black box over its logo (some other publishers, such as Wikipedia, actually went dark in protest). However, Google has been more frequently using the space to promote "Hangouts" with celebrities, such as Will.i.am.
Google's embrace of the film -- which uses the company's instantly recognizable font and multicolored lettering in its promotional materials -- is striking in contrast to the attitude of another Silicon Valley giant, which starred in a high-profile movie. When "The Social Network" was released, Facebook executives were adamant that the movie's account of Facebook's formation was greatly fictionalized. Mark Zuckerberg declined to speak to Aaron Sorkin when he was writing the screenplay, and the production wasn't filmed on location at Facebook's campus.
But Google allowed "The Internship" to film on its Mountain View campus for three days, according to a spokeswoman. The movie pokes fun at the company's famed nap pods and free lunches while following the quest of two middle-aged men to be hired out of an internship pool of overachieving recent college grads.
Unlike "The Social Network," "The Internship" is a comedy and stars a duo with proven box-office power. (It was co-written by Mr. Vaughn.) While Google has no financial stake in the film, it may soften the internet giant's corporate image at a time when news headlines often cite regulatory scrutiny over Google's privacy policies and allegedly anti-competitive behavior.