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Marketing

Published December 21st 2011

The Highlights of 2011 Through The Eyes of Google's Doodles

As we approach the end of the year, it is usually a time to contemplate on the year passed. Instead of a traditional round up of news, we thought it might be interesting to take a look at national events through the famous Google Doodles.

The web giant is notorious for its playful modification of its logo, an ancient tradition by internet standards. Luckily some of these have come a long way since the early days, when some of these blasphemies surfaced.

We decided to take a look at how Google’s Doodles have been received throughout the year. It’s important to note that these events can never be unexpected news, rather it must be something that either occurs every year, or something that Google can anticipate.

Above is a snapshot of the buzz surrounding Google Doodles for 2011, generated using the Brandwatch tool.

It’s clear to see each instance a new Doodle is featured on the Google home page from the peaks in the online activity, though it is also evident that one or two particular Doodles are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the discussion they managed to generate.

We’ve compiled a list of the top ten most talked about Doodles for 2011, and included a small breakdown of how well-received they were at the bottom of this post.

10. Stanislaw Lem

This celebrated philosophical technology writer isn’t perhaps as well-known as many of the others on this list, yet this fantastic author is responsible for the thought-provoking Solaris and is highly regarded within the field of science fiction.

Google honoured the 60th anniversary of his first book publication with this neat little game made in HTML5. The web was full of fondness for the Polish visionary this November and Google’s charming puzzler made an apt focal point for the curiosity-laden buzz.

9. Mark Twain

November also heralded the advent of Mark Twain’s 176th birthday. Another author, Twain is an American fiction legend, with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn amongst the best-loved books in US history.

Google worked their magic on their logo, transforming it into a scene from Tom Sawyer in which the protagonist is made to whitewash a fence.

8. Harry Houdini

Houdini was for much of his career the highest-paid showman in vaudeville, and is famous even today for his unbelievable feats and commitment to dispelling myths about the supernatural.

His tragic death perhaps overshadows his tough endurance, and the Silicon Valley giant instead chose to commemorate his 137th birthday with a vintage Houdini-style advert, on March 24th this year.

7. Alexander Calder

The American artist Alexander Calder would have turned 113 this July had he still been alive, and if he somehow had, he would have been witness to Google’s most advanced Doodle yet.

Using HTML5 and realtime 3D rendering with vector graphics, this abstract spin on Google’s logo echoes the work that Calder is most famous for: the mobile. Google even managed to add accelerometer features into the logo, allowing users to play with the mobile using physical movements.

6. Jim Henson

Few icons of the film industry have left such a rich legacy behind as the man behind The Muppets and Labyrinth, Jim Henson.

The Jim Henson studio and Google worked together to make this interactive logo as a homage to the master puppeteer on what would have been his 75th birthday this September. It functions as a digital puppet, so users can experience what it’s like to play with his iconic creations.

5. Jules Verne

The grandfather of marine fiction, Verne was the man who penned ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ and Google have marked his birthday with yet another wonderful logo.

The compelling ideas expressed in his fiction span a multitude of inventions and vehicles that were at the time yet to be realised. In respect to his thoughts about submarines, February’s Doodle was an accelerometer-enabled interactive journey into the depths of the oceans.

4. Ice Cream Sundae

It’s amazing to think it’s not even been 120 years since the ice cream sundae was invented, a hallmark of Western civilisation and Americana that seems timeless.

The original magic to combine syrup and ice cream is the topic of folklore, with many even claiming it was the result of two colliding trucks.

Although the vintage logo and anniversary of ice cream are cause for sweet celebration, much of the buzz surrounding this logo in April was due to gossip that circulated suggesting this Doodle was a clue that Google would be introducing its OS (codenamed Ice Cream) soon after, an ultimately fulfilled rumour that spread rapidly through tech circles.

3. Royal Wedding

The most important event of 2011, or perhaps even the millennium, took place on April 29th. The earth-shatteringly amazing occasion that touched all of our lives was also felt by Google, who could do little more than remain speechless and devote their homepage to a fairytale-style cartoon of the wedding.


Prince William and Kate Middleton got married, in case anyone missed it.

2. Freddie Mercury

Not quite the most talked-about Doodle of the year, Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday was the inspiration for one of the best-received logos that Google have ever created.

The camp superstar tragically died from AIDS at just 45, and this year saw dozens of homages and tributes flood in, as it has now been 20years since his death.

Queen’s killer hit ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ is the backdrop for an animation that sees Mercury vacuum cleaning, singing and being adorned by a his legion of fans. The full video for the logo can be found here, and it really should be watched if you have a spare minute or two [note: it takes a few seconds to load].

1. Les Paul

Miles ahead at the top of our list, June’s tribute to Les Paul was made ever more poignant as it was not even two years after the great guitar pioneer had passed away, following complications after contracting pneumonia.

The man behind the Les Paul guitars, the first guitar to ever produce that famous rock and roll sound, was responsible for a plethora of acoustic innovations and experiments. Google tailored a wonderful Doodle in honour of the legend, which granted users the ability to play melodies on the Google logo itself.

The tunes could be played using the strings that substituted Google’s lettering, and the company even included a record button to allow players to play back their songs, which could then be shared with the URL creation that was also included.

 Which Doodle received the ‘best’ buzz? 

The year-long data shows just how popular the Les Paul doodle was, and also highlights the short-lived nature of the Doodles’ buzz. Here we’ve included a pie chart for each Doodle, showing how warmly each one was received.

This shows that despite poor old Stanislaw only just making the top ten most-talked about Doodles of the year, his buzz featured more positive discussion that any of the others.

Likewise, although the ice cream and the wedding nestled in at numbers 4 and 3, both events provoked a mere 8% positive mentions.

 

 

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