Last month, a Google Doodle celebrating what would have been the 98th birthday of Japanese-American civil rights activist Fred Korematsu went viral. What made this particular Doodle so powerful was its timing: It was posted on the Monday after Donald Trump announced his travel and immigration ban, and the Korematsu Doodle was interpreted as a subtle form of protest.
It was just one example of the way that the quirky illustrations adorning Google's homepage logo, have become far more than just playful works of art online. They can be statements of resistance, they can raise awareness for endangered species, and they can call attention to some of the most influential women who never showed up in your high school textbooks.
What does it take to produce hundreds of Doodles a year that celebrate major cultural moments and push critical conversations forward? We went to Perla Campos, who heads up global marketing for doodles, to find out what a typical day looks like. Campos, who usually runs on five-and-a-half hours of sleep, manages about a dozen doodles at a time and is in constant talks with Googlers around the world, who serve as cultural consultants on country-specific doodles.
Ahead, a behind-the-scenes breakdown of her day as a member of the Doodle team, from dawn until dusk.
7:30 - 8:30 a.m.: I wake up to the smell of my fiancé cooking breakfast for us (he does this every morning because he is a literal saint). He also force-feeds me my daily probiotic and a green drink shot, the kind you drink while holding your breath because if you didn’t it would be horrifying.
The first thing I do is check my phone and computer for any urgent or timely emails that came through during the night from other time zones, which is usually the case. I usually spend 20-30 minutes answering them before even leaving the bed. 9:30-ish a.m.: If it’s a Monday or Friday, I travel to the San Francisco office via the Google shuttle. This is where my brand marketing team sits. In a nutshell, I’m basically part of two teams: Google brand marketing and the Doodle team. Tuesday through Thursday though, I just head to the Mountain View office, which is where a number of core Doodle team members and engineers sit. 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.: Time for our weekly Doodle creative review. In this weekly call, I sit down with Doodle artists and other operations members to go over concepts and drafts of all upcoming Doodles. This is easily my favorite meeting of the week. I get to look at and discuss all this incredible art to celebrate diversity and culture globally by very talented individuals. 11:00 - 11:30 a.m.: I sit down with other Doodle team leads to talk about general Doodle strategy, high level process stuff, and check-in on team culture. This is a huge priority for us. We want to make sure we preserve a sense of openness and team trust but also quirk and weirdness. 12:00 - 1:00 p.m.: Sadly, I usually have meetings booked through lunch. If I do, I usually just go down to the food trucks outside the building to pick up something quick to eat during my meetings. If I don’t, I’ll make the walk over to Charlie’s (Google’s largest on-site cafe where the salad bar and sweet potato fries are on point) and bring it back to my desk to catch up on emails from global marketing colleagues and details surrounding upcoming Doodles for the week. 1:00 - 2:00 p.m.: One-on-one meetings with my PR and policy counterparts. My relationship with them is HUGE given the awesome reach and impact that comes with every Doodle we launch. We discuss upcoming Doodles, how to amplify more complex ones, as well as any thoughts that have come from their wider teams. 2:00 - 3:00 p.m.: Meetings with Doodle engineers and my day-to-day Doodle operations team. We discuss any challenges we’re facing with upcoming Doodles and brainstorm solutions. In the day-to-day chat, I surface any important country updates from my local Doodle managers around the world, the Doodles I feel are relevant for multiple countries to opt in to, and we talk about the best ways to optimize pipeline planning, which takes up a large chunk of every year. A lot goes into launching over 360 Doodles a year around the globe! 3:00 p.m.: Head to the micro-kitchen to pick up a Diet Cherry Coke (my favorite food, real talk) and a snack. I always cross my fingers in hopes that the kitchen isn’t out of my favorite beef jerky. Sadly however, my superstitious attempts almost always fail. I end up leaving with a handful of dried bananas or a Noosa yogurt, which is probably better for me anyway (the Texan in me refuses to admit this). 3:15 - 5:00 p.m.: I squeeze in an assortment of one-on-ones since it’s kind of an unspoken rule not to schedule meetings after 5:00 p.m. with folks (Doodles require a HUGE amount of cross functional collaboration). These can be, for example, with my manager to update her on the Doodles I’m giving a bit of special attention to, the latest being the Valentine’s Day Doodle game; with my rights person, who helps me clear rights directly and facilitates rights clearance in collaboration with local Doodle managers for many of the doodles we launch around the world. 5:00 - 7:30 p.m.: Emails, emails, emails. The floor is pretty quiet now since many of the commuters have started their journeys home to San Francisco, so I’m able to think through strategy and any cool things we can do to amplify the impact of more complex or important upcoming Doodles, whether it be through social, partnerships, or some other type of activation.
This year my main focus has been on themes to celebrate diversity and inclusion, which is my greatest passion, and there’s plenty of upcoming projects to brainstorm. 7:30 p.m.: I head home and use the genius Bluetooth feature to call my mom and niece back in Texas — I grew up in a small town called Granbury — to see how their days went. They are two of my favorite people on the planet. My mom usually gushes about her healthy food choices over the day (she’s made a conscious effort over the last year to improve her well-being and I’m so proud of her). My niece talks to me about the adventures of fourth grade and gymnastics. She has mastered her round-off cartwheel. 7:45 p.m.: Time to play the traditional “you pick dinner” game with my fiancé. After some rock, paper, scissors we agree on Jersey Mike’s, our favorite sub joint. 9:00 p.m.: We unwind from the day and watch The Office on Netflix. We’ve probably cycled through the entire series 10 times and there’s no end in sight. We head to the gym for a quick workout a couple floors down in our apartment complex. 12:00 - 2:00 a.m.: More emails and work before I head to bed for the night. Not the healthiest thing, but I’m grateful that I love what I do.