The New York Times
Google Creative Lab won a print-advertising contest run by USA Today. Publisher Larry Kramer tells The New York Times "he could see how people may consider it 'hysterical,'" Stuart Elliott writes.

First prize is $1 million worth of advertising in USA Today. “A million dollars is nothing to laugh at," Google Creative Lab Chief Creative Officer Robert Wong told Elliott. The contest was spawned after a conversation between Kramer and USA Today media columnist Michael Wolff, Elliott reports. Wolff was one of the contest's judges.

The winning ad shows the first paragraph of a newspaper story about the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. Via deft copy-editing marks, the ad shows how visa problems preventing a meeting between the two could have been solved by using a Google Hangout. Still, there's something pretty uncomfortable about the Google unit that created Google News winning this thing, right? After all, Google earned more than the entire newspaper industry in 2011.

But even if the headline on this post reads like "Hurricane Sandy wins landscaping competition" to you, there's a bright side: At least Google's thinking about print advertising!

There are those who will applaud the outcome of the contest, which asked the entrants to submit print ads — existing or new — that they deemed their most creative. A company like Google, according to such people, ought to hear an “attaboy” or two when creating ads in print rather than online.

“I love the idea of using print to talk about a technology,” one judge, Tiffany Rolfe, said of the winning ad.

Related: Google engineer goes news-free for a month