The Google website went superhero this weekend, with users of the search engine getting a dose of iconic DC Comics characters in the shape of the familiar Google logo.
DC Comics Publisher Paul Levitz told Newsarama the DC-themed Google logo was less about targeted marketing and more about just making people smile.
"The fun of it is to surprise you," he said. "You want to keep the characters simultaneously current and relevant to what's going on. And when they show up where you're not expecting them in a way that tells their story and that's fun and complementary, it's a lovely thing."
The superhero Google logo was drawn by Jim Lee and showed up at the beginning of Comic-Con International: San Diego, continuing throughout the weekend to mark the 40th anniversary of the show.
"It was an acknowledgement of not only the impact of this particular convention, but everything that comes out of it, and where it falls on the calendar," explained DC Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve Rotterdam. "So it was our version of a wink and a smile, both collectively and to the folks who have been doing this convention for 40 years."
The publisher's marketing relationship with Google began when the search engine's desire to promote its iGoogle service among the comic fans attending this weekend's convention. Working with San Diego Comic-Con, Google put together a comics-themed iGoogle page that automatically loaded whenever fans at Comic-Con used the convention center's wireless network.
"The folks at Google have a service called iGoogle which allows you to customize your Google home page. They've had it up for a number of years. While it's totally open and they allow anybody to create their own graphics for their home page, they do have some that are supplied in themes," Rotterdam explained. "So they contacted me and asked if we could create some comics channel themes that would allow people to customize their home page using DC characters."
DC worked with the company to put together iGoogle themes promoting Superman books, Batman books and Blackest Night, as well as characters from Vertigo, Wildstorm and the Zuda webcomics site. When Comic-Con attendees accessed the wireless network, the special iGoogle page for Comic-Con came up on the screen with the DC themes included.
That started the communication between the companies, the conversation eventually led to the use of DC characters in the Google logo, Rotterdamn said.
"As we were talking about these themes, the 'Google Doodle' came up, which is what they call their Google logo, and we were talking about how ubiquitous the logo is, and how ubiquitous our characters are, and we just started waxing promotionally, and the idea came up," Rotterdam said. "And they said, 'Someone like Jim Lee would be good,' and we said, 'Well, why get someone like Jim Lee when we could just get Jim Lee himself?'"
Google and DC have been in contact since the promotion started, Rotterdam said, and both sides are happy with the results, so there's a possibility for other cross-marketing between the companies.
Rotterdam said DC is making an effort toward marketing initiatives that add an element of fun to comic book fandom, using the Blackest Night Black Lantern rings as an example. "This is just another way to engage from a consumer's perspective, from a fan's perspective," he said.
"I got an email from my 16-year-old son yesterday saying, 'Hey dad, you should go check out Google! They've got this cool thing with your characters going on!'" Levitz said. "I sent that over to Jim and got back a chain of laughter. That's the fun of it."