Google’s Black History Month ad shows black culture dominating search trends

Google showed that black Americans are in the public spotlight via Search.



By Bridget Stevens

A new ad from Google shows that black Americans are in the public spotlight, perhaps more than ever, often ranking high in many Internet searches.

In honor of Black History Month, Google launched “The Most Searched,” an ad that debuted during the Grammy Awards show. The ad was built from “aggregate Search trends data” to identify “black icons, events and movements that were the most searched within a specific category or field in the U.S.,” said Shea Jackson McCann, Google creative strategist, in a blog post. The search data spanned from January 1, 2004 — when U.S. Google Search data first became available — to July 1, 2019.

Many of the most-searched people have been African Americans and many of the most-searched categories are ones related to black culture — data that Google turned into a visually powerful ad.

LeBron James flexes during a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 10, 2018, in Las Vegas.LeBron James flexes during a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 10, 2018, in Las Vegas.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images, FILE

LeBron James flexes during a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 10, 2018, in Las Vegas.LeBron James flexes during a preseason game at T-Mobile Arena on Oct. 10, 2018, in Las Vegas. Ethan Miller/Getty Images, FILE

The ad kicks off with Beyonce’s 2018 Coachella performance, captioned with “the most searched performance.” Her song “Countdown” plays throughout the ad.

The ad also features many present-day icons such as LeBron James (most-searched athlete), RuPaul (most-searched drag queen), Serena Williams (most-searched tennis player) and John Legend (most-searched EGOT — Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winner), as well as historic figures such as the late poet Maya Angelou, highlighting her as the most-searched female poet, and Malcolm X, citing his as the most-searched biography.

The montage-style video also includes several pivotal moments during the Civil Rights movement: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, the segregated lunch counter sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott ignited by Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person.

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018, in Indio, Calif.Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018, in Indio, Calif.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images, FILE

Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018, in Indio, Calif.Beyonce Knowles performs onstage during 2018 Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival Weekend at the Empire Polo Field on April 14, 2018, in Indio, Calif. Kevin Winter/Getty Images, FILE

The ad also honors Katherine Johnson of “Hidden Figures,” as the most-searched NASA mathematician. In the ad, Google noted, “U.S. search interest for ‘women in STEM’ has also increased 2,300% in the past decade.”

Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington.Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington.
Paul Morigi/AP Images, FILE

Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington.Maya Angelou answers questions at her portrait unveiling at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery on Saturday, April 5, 2014, in Washington. Paul Morigi/AP Images, FILE

“Last year, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day approached, our team had a hunch that his monumental ‘I Have A Dream’ speech might be the most searched speech in the United States in Google Trends history,” said McCann in a blog post on the company’s website.



“These trends can also help us understand what has endured, what has captivated our attention over time, who has had an undeniable influence on history, and who is shaping our future,” read a statement on Google’s website about the ad.

The website offers additional details on the methodology used to measure the data.

“Yes, I’m Black! I’m proud of it! I’m Black and beautiful!,” wrote Bernice King in a tweet that also featured Google’s ad. King is the youngest daughter of Martin Luther King Jr.

Symone D. Sanders, special adviser to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, tweeted, “Big Monday morning energy after watching the company’s ad for Black History Month.”

“Most Searched” tells a powerful story about how the Black community has helped shape and influence American culture. It also shows the tremendous collective interest in our history,” Jackson McCann said in the blog post.

Categories: Digital Exclusives and Features