If you made a video lampooning some of the 1984-esque aspects of Google, and the company contacted you about it after it had garnered over a million hits on YouTube (itself a Google property), you would probably expect a lawsuit, or at the very least some sort of cease-and-desist request. If you’re Jeff Grace and The Vacationeers, however, you would find out that instead, the company whose first line in their code of conduct is “Don’t be evil” will invite you to their campus for a day, even treating you to a meal in the fabled Google cafeteria.
“I wrote the first video over the holiday break when a friend of mine told me there was a picture of him smoking a cigarette on Google Street View,” explained Grace. “The video did really well… it has over a million views on YouTube alone. It was the biggest hit we had at the time. Google called us and told us they found it really funny. [They even] invited us to come visit their campus. We got to hang out with the Google Geo team. They told us, ‘We’ll be here to help you guys.’ They showed us stuff we didn’t even know about. We thought they would be freaked out and paranoid, but they were like, ‘Make more!’ They also helped us out a lot for the final episode.”
When asked about how the first video became so big, Grace told me, “We put [the video] online, and showed it to a few people. It had been up for a couple of days, and our friends really liked it. After about four or five days, a guy on digg, arbiterofcool, dugg it, and it became the most dugg comedy video of the year. Also, when the first episode came out, Google Maps was on the news, there were privacy concerns, the new street view feature was being talked about. That had a lot to do with [the video’s] popularity.”
Grace was tight-lipped when asked about the series finale- “All I’ll say is that you will get to see ‘Google.’ It’ll come out in a couple of weeks, we don’t have an exact date yet. We’re waiting to see how the latest episode does, and then we’ll go from there.”