“Much Adoodle about Nothing?” What Kind of Backlash Should Google Expect from the Chavez over Jesus Doodle Decision?

Just one day after Google’s decision to honor the birthday of the founder of the National Farm Workers Association, labor leader and civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, nearly half the world seems to have an opinion. While the choice to honor a devout Christian on one of the most significant Christian holidays has been downplayed, up-played and outright villainized, it remains to be seen if Google will suffer long-term consequences from its decision to ignore the Easter holiday and one of the most significant historic figures of all time.

Originally created in 1998, you can see a timeline of Google doodles at google.com/doodles, which began as a simple homage to holidays with cheeky and childish images, but became decidedly worldlier and more educational throughout the years. Google users have come to expect a new doodle on National holidays, as well as the lesser known holidays and significant dates. The Google doodle has also become Google’s way of expressing their sense of creativity and opinions in a fairly uncontroversial way; until now, that is.

Now the question remains, was Google’s choice to ignore Easter simply an attempt to uphold its duty to remain relevant on a global scale? Or were they consciously making a political stance in honoring a left-winged activist just one year after President Obama declared March 31st as Cesar Chavez day? Or, even more realistically, were they just flaunting their power with their now reported 86% search engine market share? Proving that they no longer have to answer to anyone?

Whether you’re a devout Christian or not, most Americans agree that Google had to foresee the backlash coming, and that they could have potentially made a solid stance on their religious and political views (something many large companies have been doing this past year, especially surrounding the gay marriage issue). So the question remains, will the devout Christians be flocking to use Google’s biggest competitor, Bing, who celebrated Easter with their simple and far less controversial Easter egg background? Or will the frustrated users eventually come running back to Google, whose market share is directly reflected in their mastery of search engine optimization functionality?

Google did release a statement to the Washington Post that read, “We enjoy celebrating holidays at Google but, as you may imagine, it’s difficult for us to choose which events to highlight on our site. Sometimes for a given date, we feature an historical event or influential figure that we haven’t in the past.” Fox News was quick to point out that Google has never honored Jesus in the past, on either Easter or Christmas.

In Google’s defense, however, the Chavez family released a statement showing their appreciation for the honor. They stated, “coincidentally, his birthday this year falls on Easter Sunday. We understand the concern that some people have, but for many there is no contradiction. Cesar lived the gospel according to Jesus Christ: he helped the poor and outcast.” Could Google have actually thought they were actually taking the least controversial route? At this point it seems that all we can really do is speculate and watch as the aftermath unfolds.

Author: Allison Schnur is the Senior Project Manager of ArteWorks SEO, a full service search engine optimization firm located in Austin, TX. For more information about SEO, SEM, or social media please visit http://www.arteworks.biz.