Why the ‘Valentines Day Google Doodle’ is all about engagement

In case you didn’t see it, Google had this great animation (co-animated by Michael Lipman) embedded on its home page this morning. If you didn’t see it , here it is:

I have read the comments section of youtube, and several other blogs posting about this video, commenting on the political nature of the doodle, and the fact that it was a commentary on the failure of material goods to make us happy. Hey, these are great subjects to talk about, but I think the thing to talk about is WHY ITS ENGAGING.

Google knocked it out of the park-and I will tell you why I think they did.

Because the whole thing was about CONNECTION- an animation that tells the story of what we are all seeking in life-LOVE.

Whether you are man, woman, friend,  alien, or cookie, we are all looking for someone to partner up with and share this experience called Life together.

Google, while to most of us, may appear like a thousand headed monster, managed to embrace what is most important to human beings, and create an animation that reflected a little bit of all of us, back to ourselves.

Google was able to tap into all of our SHARED EXPERIENCE.

Not only that, but they were able to show how their search engine was intimately tied up with all of our attempts at expressing love, whether that is  completely true or not. This animation helped Google further ’embed’ itself into our minds, and more importantly, our hearts. This is what engages people.

Now, for me, I use google because the search engine works. The animation isn’t going to make me ‘fall in love’ with Google or anything.

BUT,heres the thing-it made me SMILE.

Even if Google does take over the world ten years from now, today, I got to enjoy what they created and trust them just a little more.

Now here is my quick  breakdown as an artist and an animator on why the video is engaging:

It’s sentimental. First, the song sets the mood of sentimentality. “Cold, Cold Heart” by Tony Bennett captures that feeling of loving and feeling rejected that we have all felt in one way or another. I also think the song was used well, with the lyrical portion of the song ending right before the characters come together, allowing the music to carry the story.

At home feeling. The artist uses a desk setup that most of us probably are familiar with: A computer chord, a juice box(maybe even a plate of food, haha), and a writing pad. This gives you the ‘at home’ feeling.

The characters are children. Childhood is a time when the world doesn’t seem so harsh, and hope seems to rule. The characters go through emotions that help you identify, but somehow, you know that defeat is foreign to the spirit of a child, and stay tuned to see how victory comes to be!

Recognizable symbols.The video begins by tying into the stereotypical ways people show love. A rose and chocolate. Even if you don’t buy them for your loved one, we all know that ever we ran out of ideas, those are the ‘ol trusties’. Using these symbols taps into all of our collective memories.

Repetition and then-surprise! The character approaches the girl several times, then-he resorts to throwing stuff at her! This is where I began to chuckle. Why? It is unexpected. I also think the variety of items the boy character throws adds to the effect, tossing a Jules Verne-looking, diving helmet, a pie, an iPhone looking thing, paper airplane, heart balloon, and rabbit out of a hat. The variety of items interrupts our pattern of what to expect, and it becomes funny!

The characters share an experience. This is the basis of all human connection-having something in common and sharing in it. It makes perfect sense that this is the ‘climax’ of the emotional rejection, ending in victory-just as he ‘gives up’. I also think that we have all experienced that moment when we stop looking for an answer, it seems that is when it shows up! This really helps people identify.

The montage of character couples. This lets us know that “Hey, google is for everyone”, allowing themselves to be viewed as a company run by *gasp* HUMANS! Humans with a heart too! I also thought it was genius how Google chose to humanize milk and cookies:) Just like a good storyteller would do.

The beginning and end shots. I think the play button on the red valentine on the homepage was great. It grabbed my curiosity and made me go “What is that!!?”. And I really enjoyed the final, parting shot of the handmade Google valentine. Very charming, and a great way to end the video and create a memorable goodbye.

All in all, this animated video was great. As for how something like this could work for you in your own business, it really comes down to what kind of image you have created for yourself, and if something like this would be in congruence. Google has done a great job of staying curious and exploring expression, so it makes perfect sense for them to do something like this and have it be a smash.

In your own business, I would offer the challenge to get to the heart of what it is you do and how it helps the world become just a little bit better-and do your best to take small steps from that place. Hey, I’m on the journey with ya!


Nick Navatta





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