Behind Google’s Valentine’s Day 2012 Doodle

Google's Valentine's Day 2012 Doodle

Open up Google.com and the Google Doodle team has waiting for you, a cute Valentine’s Day animation.

You’ll be welcomed by a boy compelling you to press the “Play” button. Upon giving in [spoiler ahead] a short animation takes you through the story of that same young boy, desperate to obtain the affections of a young jump roping girl. But even with the handy help of Google, his gifts of affection are ignored repeatedly, until as a last-ditch effort he decides to jump rope beside her. Unexpectedly, the girl takes notice and embraces the boy. So what is the moral of the story? Sometimes lavishing your significant other with gifts isn’t necessarily the solution. Sometimes all they may want is to be understood.

Google Doodle of Burning Man stick figure 1998

With the morality story aside, Google’s doodles have successively become more and more of an ambitious project. Co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin began the doodles in 1998 with a simple stick figure drawing intended to let Google users know the duo was attending the Nevada music festival, Burning Man. Despite the doodle’s humble beginnings, Google’s co-founders, in 2000, delegated the art direction to the then-intern and current webmaster, Dennis Hwang. Since then the job has been expanded to now include a team of self-professed “Doodlers,” although on occasion, the art or concept is commissioned to a distinguished an individual outside of the team.

Valentine’s Day 2012 is one of those days.

If you’re familiar with the “Happy Tree Friends” Web shorts, you’re already acquainted with its animator, director and the voice of Nutty, Michael Lipman. If you’ve watched the shows, the second thought in your head must be, why Lipman? After all, 30 seconds into the show, the cutesy “Happy Tree Friends” are anything but cute and happy. Fans flock to the episodes for its trademark blood and guts gore-fest. But Lipman was called into action with only a three-week notice. Animating a predetermined animatic storyboard over one minute long would typically take him nine or 10 weeks.

“When Google calls and says, ‘Drop everything, we want you to create something that’s going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people,’ you heed that call,” Lipman told TechCrunch.

If you hovered over the doodle, you would have noticed a notification bar that read, “Happy Valentine’s Day! ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ performed by Tony Bennett courtesy of Columbia Records and Sony/ATV.” You have to give credit to the Doodle team for understanding the romance of a classic song like “Cold, Cold Heart” by decisively steering clear of contemporary love songs. But as Lipman reveals, Tony Bennett is in fact a fan of the Google Doodles, and was enthusiastic about involving himself in today’s doodle.


As an added bonus, for those of you scrambling to figure out what to do on Valentine’s Day, here’s Google’s creative (albeit sometimes unrealistic) use of Google’s mall and airport maps to woo your significant other.

Let us know what you thought of today’s doodle and what thus far has been your favorite Google Doodle.