Search Personality of the Year 2008

It’s an odd thing is fame. It comes and goes, and as of yesterday track cyclist Chris Hoy is on a bit of a peak in his fame. Winner of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year is a pretty high achievement in terms of public popularity. What interests me as a fellow cyclist at the moment is how another British cycling great – Mark Cavendish – gets on with hoy in a head to head battle of the web searches.

Hoy vs CavendishGoogle trends is a fantastic barometer for getting under the skin of some searches and it gives such a great insight into how people search – through time – and through different areas and countries. Our cyclists Hoy and Cavendish provide a great illustration of the power of this tool from Google. Click on the image to see my annotations…

Mark Cavendish is a road cyclist with an incredible habit of winning those thrilling 150-rider bunch sprints in the big races that matter. Hoy is a track cyclist with a similar habit for winning those tight velodrome sprints against a handful of riders. Here’s the subtle difference. Whilst Hoy wins medals for Great Britain in the Olympics, the other is partaking in what is still essentially a continental branch of the sport – road racing. The fascinating trends show

  1. Mark Cavendish is a much more widely searched term in foreigh countries (and in most foregin languages)
  2. Hoy is massively more ‘popular’ in his native Scotland than in the UK as a whole
  3. Hoy’s popularity peaks massively (until today!) with the Olympics and his superb performances in the 2007 world championships went largely un-noticed to searchers

So what does all this prove?
Well – not that much I guess – it’s not surprising that Olympic medals bring attention to an athelete. Hoy would be the first to agree that in most other countries where road cycling is highly respected and part of mainstream sports, Cavendish will be the enduring star.