Google's 2021 'Year in Search' explores 'how to heal'

Mental health drives this year's heart-rending yet uplifting look back

Published On
Dec 08, 2021

Editor's Pick

This year, mental health emerged as a huge theme as the world continued to grapple with the coronavirus, social injustice, climate change and basically, how to get back to normal when we’re still on shaky ground. It also drives Google's 2021 “Year in Search” film, an emotional look back that captures the past twelve months' challenges as well as people's pain, bravery and resilience as they tried to overcome them. 

The film opens on a somber note, cutting together scenes of frontline workers, people mourning lost loved ones, blazing wildfires and more as various individuals express their grief and anxieties over what they've endured. Even major public figures such as Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka appear, vulnerable, yet taking a stand to prioritize their well-being.

The Google search bar anchors each scene as copy reads (in various languages): “This year more than ever the world searched—how to heal.” 

Compared to Reddit’s lively recap film that also debuted today, Google’s review takes a more pensive tone yet ultimately ends on a positive note. Its final act pulls in young poet Amanda Gorman’s uplifting words from the inauguration, a scene from “Ted Lasso,” reunions of loved ones post-lockdown and more. The endline then reads, “To everyone fighting to come back stronger … search on.” (Olivia Rodrigo's "Drivers License" also serves as a fittingly emotional yet inspiring soundtrack for the spot.)

The campaign was created out of Google Brand Studio and once again includes a digital hub further exploring the themes within the film. For 2021, Google also partnered with Pop-Up Magazine to elaborate on the year's trends in a 64-page print and digital magazine that will be distributed with publications such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribute, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post and the Boston Globe. There will also be an interactive retail experience at the Google Store in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea.