By Barry Janoff
November 28, 2012: What do Kim Kardashian, Justin Bieber, Rihanna (pictured below), Jay-Z and Beyoncé's daughter Blue Ivy Carter, Santa Claus and Peyton Manning have in common?
Aside from being well-known personalities, they each topped one of the nearly dozen categories complied by Bing in the Microsoft search engine's just released Top Searches of 2012 Report.
The lists were based on the "aggregation of billions of search queries" via Bing over the past year.
Peyton Manning's trade from the Indianapolis Colts to the Denver Broncos, following a year in which he missed the entire NFL season, helped to drive him to the top of the Most Searched Sports Stars list, according to Bing. It didn't hurt that the veteran quarterback managed to retain his status as the most popular NFL player among marketers, with national TV spots that included Papa John's, GMC's Buick and DirecTV.
The quarterback who was sent from Denver to the New York Jets, Tim Tebow, was No. 3 among athletes after not being in the Top Ten in previous searches. Tebow's exposure in the New York market helped to drive searches, as did his presence in such national marketing campaigns as Jockey, FRS and TiVo.
The fact that he went from a starter with the Broncos to a back-up quarterback with the Jets only inspired searches. Somewhat ironically, Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez and the controversy surrounding the presence of both players on the Jets did not push Sanchez onto the Bing list.
In between Manning and Tebow was another athlete who is familiar with controversy — Tiger Woods. He came in No. 2 on the Most Searched Sports Stars list for the second consecutive year, according to Bing. Woods this past year was not involved in any off-the-course personal issues, but did regain some of his marketing luster with new sponsors such as Rolex as well as retaining long-time alliances with the likes of Nike Golf and EA Sports.
Tennis star Maria Sharapova was the most searched female sports star on the list at No. 4, but that was a drop from the No. 1 position she held in 2011, according to Bing. The only other woman among the Top Ten was Serena Williams (No. 6), who this past year won both the Wimbledon and U.S. Open tennis Grand Slams in addition to the gold medal in both singles and doubles (with sister Venus) at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
The latter accomplishments helped to drive Serena to the No. 1 spot on Bing's Most Searched Olympians list, ahead of track and field star Lolo Jones.
Williams' success in 2012 also helped her to become only the second woman in tennis history to win a career Golden Grand Slam — all four Grand Slams plus an Olympic gold (Steffi Graf is the only other woman to accomplish the feat). Andre Aggassi (who is married to Graf) and Rafael Nadal are the only male tennis players to have accomplished the career Golden Grand Slam.
In addition, Serena was only one of two athletes to appear on both the Most Searched Sports Stars and Most Searched Olympians. The other was LeBron James, who helped to lead the U.S. Men's National Basketball Team to a gold medal and also was key to the Miami Heat winning the 2011-12 NBA championship.
However, James came in third among NBA players on Most Searched Sports Stars behind Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers, who also was on the gold medal Olympic team; and Lamar Odom, whose No. 7 ranking Bing attributed in large part to his wife, Khloe Kardashian.
Former NFL all-pro Terrell Owens made the Most Searched Sports Stars list at No. 10, but not for any on-field accomplishments. Owens kept his name in the news via a short-lived pre-season stint with the Seattle Seahawks, his reality TV show and various reports of his beleaguered financial situation.
The women’s gymnastics team was well represented among Most Searched Olympians with McKayla Maroney at No. 5 and Gabby Douglass at No. 8.
The Olympic Games themselves placed No. 3 on the Most Searched News Stories for 2012, according to Bing, behind the iPhone and the 2012 Elections.
Also related to sports and sports marketing, Bing said that Pizza Hut topped the list of Most Searched Fast Feeders, followed by Papa John’s, Subway, McDonald’s and Taco Bell. All five have a strong presence in sports via sponsorships, marketing alliances and/or deals with high-profile athletes.
Bing did not break down the lists by number of total searches.
Full lists are below:
Most Searched Sports Stars
1. Peyton Manning
2. Tiger Woods
3. Tim Tebow
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Kobe Bryant
6. Serena Williams
7. Lamar Odom
8. LeBron James
9. Cristiano Ronaldo
10. Terrell Owens
Most Searched Olympians
1. Serena Williams
2. Lolo Jones
3. LeBron James
4. Michael Phelps
5. McKayla Maroney
6. Hope Solo
7. Misty May-Treanor
8. Gabby Douglas
9. Usain Bolt
10. Ryan Lochte
See the full list of Bing.com Top Searches of 2012 here.
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