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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

Unleash Your Guerrilla Marketer!

Filed under: Editorial, Fun

Hi, Everyone!

So can I take a few minutes to wax poetic about how much I love Google? It’s true, I’ve long been carrying a torch for the company founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the two techno-nerds from Stanford, for a myriad of reasons, starting with but not limited to:

* Their delightfully idealistic, if slightly naive, mantra: “Don’t be evil”

* The fact that they’re such foodies they have free gourmet meals served up daily to employees at the famed Googleplex (Disneyland for Dorks) and that their first chef used to cook for the Grateful Dead

* Because the company is routinely at the top of Fortune‘s “Best Places to Work” list and was recently named as one of the world’s most ethical companies

* Their recent bitch-slapping of censorship in China (that’ll be an issue…)

* Because even when they were business neophytes, they had a preternatural sense of how to gonzo market.

What do I mean by that? Way back when, in 1998, geeky Sergey and hippie Larry decided to make a pilgrimage to the Burning Man Festival. If you’ve never heard of it, it is a long weekend — the High Holy Days (heavy emphasis on “high”) — of counterculture kooks, wacky college students, gypsy women and men in their 40s with deep-seeded Peter Pan complexes, who all frolic in the desert. (If you want to read more about Burning Man in all its weirdo glory, click here: http://www.burningman.com/) To commemorate Sergey & Larry’s Excellent Adventure, they asked Dennis Hwang, who was an intern with Google at the time known to doodle in meetings, to create a Googlefied Burning Man logo for the occasion.

The very first Google Doodle, created by Dennis Hwang in 1998, to commemorate Sergey Brin and Larry Page’s trip to Burning Man in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Cut to today, where — according to reports in Business Week and The New York Times — the Google Doodles generate millions of hits to the search engine and have reached cult-like status. It’s an intriguing concept, I think: The Google Guys looked around at their employees, found one (who would later go on to be Google’s Webmaster) and tapped into his talent. By utilizing Dennis’s doodles (which only took up, they say, about 15% of his overall time), the company generated massive PR and buzz on the cheap.  

Google’s ingenuity also reminds me of the story I love about Estee Lauder, the cosmetics queen who created the “gift with purchase” concept: When she launched her famed “Youth Dew” perfume in 1953, stores were reluctant to carry it. What did Lauder, ever the enterprising make-up maven, do? She went to various establishments with a bottle of Youth Dew tucked in her purse and strategically “spilled” it throughout the stores, knowing that when women inhaled the scent, they’d be captivated.

My point is, getting buzz for your company doesn’t have to cost a fortune — a little mavericky marketing can go a long way. Speaking of which, if you’re going to be at the ASI New York or Chicago shows, join me on Education Day (May 4th in New York; July 13th in Chicago) — I’ll be moderating a panel discussion on the “Secrets of Wildly Successful Self-Promotions.” Hope to see you there! 

Click here to view an archive of the Google Doodles (http://www.google.com/logos/) and see below for some of my faves:

With a Celtic influence, this design was conceived for St. Patrick’s Day, 2010.
Love was in the air at Google on Valentine’s Day, 2010.
Where creativity and nerdiness meet, this Google Doodle was done to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Tetris, on June 6, 2009.
Last year’s Earth Day-inspired Doodle, on April 22, 2009.
Created on August 25, 2009, this Doodle celebrated the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s first telescope.
The Google Doodlers give a shout-out to astronomers, amateur and otherwise, on August 12, 2009, to tout the Perseid meteor shower.
As the Google Doodles have grown in popularity, others have “guest doodled,” including Scott Adams, the creator of “Dilbert,” and artists for DC Comics, who penned this to signal the opening of Comic-Con in July, 2009.

Send me your favorite guerrilla marketing stories!


— M


  1. Hayley Says:

    I love google doodles as well. I used to keep a folder of them on my desktop and drop all of my favorites into it. I had a bunch and then lost them when my computer crashed. Such a bummer. However, on a more exciting note, Google is now one of my Clients and we’re able to produce some really fun cool items for them.

    Did you read their blog today about their name change? Cute and funny but i’d be crushed if it were true. Glad it’s just an April Fool’s prank.

    Have a good day.

    Thursday April 1, 2010
  2. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Hayley! How fun it must be to have Google as a client (what types of cool items do you do for them?) and I wasn’t kidding, I LOVE them! Too funny that they “changed” their name to “Topeka”… how very Google to have such a great sense of humor about themselves! What was your favorite Google Doodle? The Warhol and Van Gogh ones they did for the artists’ birthdays a few years back were awesome. Thanks for posting, Hayley! — M

    Thursday April 1, 2010
  3. The Friday Blog Round – Up 4/9/10 » EnMart Embroidery Talk Says:

    […] up this week, I love this post by Michelle Bell about guerrilla marketing and the history of the Google doodle.   It just goes to show that marketing doesn’t have to […]

    Friday April 9, 2010
  4. Rena Ashfeld Says:

    Also a BIG fan of Google – my family say’s my response to everything is “just google it!” :)

    Friday April 9, 2010
  5. Norm Winston Says:

    the Google Doodles are a great and cool collection. Reminds me of the Absolute Vodka ads that have been a cool collection for many years.
    Friday May 4, 2010

    Tuesday May 4, 2010
  6. Norm Winston Says:

    I meant the date to be Tuesday on the above.

    Tuesday May 4, 2010
  7. Michele Bell Says:

    Hi Norm,

    You’re totally right — the Google Doodles are very much like the Absolut ads. Just as cool, very memorable and excellent at building buzz! ; )
    Thanks for posting! — M

    Monday May 10, 2010

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