Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, and Google

    September 10, 2008
    Chris Crum

Google announced a collection of new iGoogle themes from well-known artists today. Among them are: Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, Gucci, Burberry, Vera Wang, Bob Dylan, Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, and more.

An interesting mix to say the least. Google explains:

Why did we focus on musicians and fashion designers this round? It’s often the clothes we wear and the music we listen to that help express our personality and style. And when we first unveiled iGoogle artist themes, we heard that many of you wanted even more themes in these areas. We hope this new collection gives you more choices so that your iGoogle page reflects your personal style.

Oh yeah, it’s fashion week too as Andy Beal points out. That might have something to do with it. As for my personal style? I’ve yet to come across an iGoogle theme that reflected it, but perhaps that’s just because I have no style.

There’s 28 new designs in all, and that puts the total number up to somewhere close to 1,700. That number has grown significantly since Google started sharing the iGoogle Themes API earlier this year. I’m surprised we haven’t seen more advertisers making their own iGoogle themes to promote things like movies, similarly to how they do with AOL Instant Messenger Buddy Icons.

There are some such examples like this one from The Dark Knight, but I’m fairly certain it was created by a fan, rather than made by the movie studio’s people.

Joker iGoogle Theme

This seems to be a relatively untapped branding outlet. It may not have the reach of a buddy icon since it’s not sent back and forth between users, but a theme will still attract some eyeballs by users looking for a new one, and by other people who see it on the users’ screen, so I can’t imagine it being a totally wasted effort.

Radiohead took the opposite approach with their theme(s), by not even including their name or likenesses in the design. The only way you’d know it was a Radiohead theme would be to see Google’s own label. But that’s because Radiohead are artists and are not worried about suckling the "corporate teat".

Radiohead iGoogle Theme

Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more brands being incorporated into themes in the future, especially given Google’s recent aggressive advertising endeavors.