The Mexican-American visionary bringing representation through Google Doodles
Perla Campos is the brains behind many of the cultural images and graphics seen on Google’s homepage.
Throughout her life, Perla Campos has often navigated through chapters and situations as “one of the only.”
Born and raised in a small town about 30 minutes southwest of Dallas-Fort Worth, her family was one of only a few Hispanic families in a predominantly white town.
In college, she was again one of the only Hispanics at her school.
Even today, she works at one of the largest corporations in the United States and the world — Google — and is one of the few Latinas on the team.
Constantly being “one of the only” and part of an underrepresented community has been challenging for Campos, but the experience has also become quite valuable over time.
“The main thing is you learn how to value that and the power of those challenges,” Campos said during an interview with AL DÍA.
It has taught her about perseverance, resilience, and quite frankly, more about herself as a Latina, prompting a mission to give back and show up for the people in her community.
In her current role as Global Marketing Lead for the Google Doodles team, she is able to do just that and more.
“I will always begin my story with, ‘I am the proud daughter of a super heroine, Mexican immigrant, single mom,’” said Campos.
Campos’ mother has been a huge influence in her life. She credits her mother for being her foundation as Campos navigated and learned about life and all its challenges.
Her mother immigrated to the United States from Mexico, the only member of her family to do so. As a result, she always made sure the young Campos and her two siblings maintained their Mexican heritage while in the U.S.
“It was really interesting navigating those two cultures,” said Campos, “because while I had the Mexican part in the home, the town where I grew up was predominantly white.”
Upon entering college, Campos came into herself in terms of what it meant to be a Latina.
“I started to learn my history, and the blood, sweat and tears that went into giving me the opportunity that I have here in the U.S.,” she said.
When reflecting on the sacrifices her mother and generations of her ancestors have made, it makes Campos want to ensure those sacrifices weren’t in vain as she does her part to give it forward.
After a few internships throughout her college years, Campos got accepted into an internship with Google.
What started out as a simple four-month internship developed into a full journey. With her goal of positively impacting her community intact, she started to connect the way in which Google could help her reach that goal.
“I had a moment while I was in Google where it really just showed me that the way I can impact my community, the way that I can give back,” she said, “there are multiple paths to that objective.”
“I made the decision to come over to Google because I really felt like I could still make advancements in that ultimate objective at a company that felt the same way,” she added.
Campos originally started working with Google in 2013, first as Product Marketing Manager of Performance Ads Marketing at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, and later Product Marketing Manager of Spain Consumer Marketing in Madrid.
She’s been in her current role as Global Marketing Lead of Google Doodles since in 2016.
Campos describes Google Doodles as “a dual combination of art and culture,” noting that the company launches about 150 a year all over the world.
“The art comes most from our core team of engineers and artists, and what we term ‘doodlers,’ to create the thing that you see. But the culture part comes from a network of [more than 120 people] from all around the world,” she added.
In her role, Campos is responsible for managing that network, engaging relationships with community groups and ensuring that all creations are authentic.
Through those relationships and partnerships, the Doodle team is able to intersect different identities and aspects that make both the process and end product more inclusive.
“My job is to make people feel seen, feel heard and feel valued,” said Campos.
Dating back to the early days of Google, the Doodle concept and designs has evolved quite drastically.
In the late 1990s and 2000s, a Doodle may have been one of the letters in the Google title being replaced with an image or graphic.
This past summer, in anticipation of the Tokyo Olympics, Google launched an entire interactive game world with seven mini-games for users to play.
“In my years being here, I’ve seen the evolution in terms of the sophistication of the art, but we’ve [also] gone from creating things in-house to expanding our network of the people that create the Doodles with our guest artists program,” said Campos.
The guest artist program has gone a long way towards allowing individuals from different communities to bring their voices and perspectives into the Doodles the company eventually launches on its homepage.
“For me personally, what has been a huge passion project of mine is also seeing our evolution in terms of diversity and inclusion, not just in the U.S., but globally for markets all around the world,” added Campos.
In 2020, Google released its 5,000th Doodle, many of which took place during Campos’ tenure.
However, if there is one in particular she is most proud of, it’s one depicting singer, entertainer and fellow Mexican-American influencer, Selena Quintanilla.
While working in Google Spain, Campos was asked if she could create a Doodle for anyone, who would it be and why?
With no hesitation, she named Selena Quintanilla.
“I haven’t really felt like I’ve seen myself on the Google homepage and I think we can make that happen for a lot more people,” she reflected.
Fast forward two years later, and Campos returned to the U.S., reached out to the Doodle team and pitched her Selena Doodle idea.
“Why I really, really wanted this job was related to this idea of making people feel seen, heard and valued,” added Campos.
The Selena Doodle was eventually chosen and officially launched on Oct. 17, 2017, the 28th anniversary of her debut studio album release.
It’s a Doodle Campos holds near and dear to her heart, given the effort, and creative input and direction she was able to put into the design.
Selena had a very big impact on Campos’ life, and the Doodle was a way to pay tribute to her.
“I was able to work with [Selena’s] family, it was like this ‘pinch me’ project to somebody who I always say, growing up the two people who taught me you can do anything you set your mind to as long as you work hard and are focused, were my mom and Selena,” reflected Campos.
“I was so amazed and grateful to see the impact that it had on the community,” she added.
That endeavor was just one of many Campos has worked on over the years to increase representation for different communities, including one honoring Dr. Maya Angelou's 90th birthday and the 44th anniversary of the birth of hip-hop.
More recently, she helped work on a Doodle honoring Dr. Ildaura Murillo-Rohde, the founder of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
“Overall, when we can create that moment — even for a brief amount of time — for someone to feel celebrated and recognized and elevated, that’s like the Holy Grail,” said Campos.