Coke Counters Bad PR With Search Ads

Coca-Cola Counters Critics With Search Ads from MediaPost covers how Coke is using search marketing to get the word out about a court victory where it was accused by a Colombian trade union of intimidating and assassinating union leaders.

A search for coke on Google, for example, brings up the Killer Coke site ranked third, which covers the allegations. Now Coke is fighting back against that -- sort of. A search for killer coke brings up this ad:

Coke Lawsuit Dismissed
Suit against Coca-Cola bottlers
in Colombia dismissed. Read more.

That leads to more information about the victory from Coke, right alongside the "anti" natural search result that appears, like this:

Anti-Coke Natural Result & Pro-Coke Search Ad

But c'mon. This is Coke being savvy? A regular search for coke on Google doesn't carry this ad. That means plenty of people are seeing the Killer Coke site ranking well but not getting a counter message from Coke itself.

Perhaps it is an oversight, though it might be intentional -- trying to target those specifically searching for "killer coke" with a positive message without trying to be too in the face of those doing regular searches who might not know about the allegations.

Curious, I checked out the trend of searches for killer coke versus coke on Google Trends. As you can see, practically no one is searching for "killer coke:"

Killer Coke Versus Coke Trend

Overall, if Coke thinks spreading the word is important, I'd have gone with an ad targeted to Coke as well. Then again, since the company already has three different ads running for its My Coke Rewards program, the main Coca Cola site and the official Coca Cola store, maybe it felt a fourth ad would finally trip Google's rules against multiple ads from the same company:

To provide the best possible experience for our users and advertisers, Google does not permit multiple ads from the same or affiliated company or person to appear on the same results page. We believe that pages with multiple ads from the same company provide less relevant results and a lower quality experience for our users. Over time, multiple ads from the same source also reduce advertiser performance and lower their return on investment.

Of course, Coke does seem to meet the exception to this rule:

  • The destination site for each ad offers different products or services (for example, a large manufacturer with two product sites, one solely for stereos and one solely for computers, both running on keyword 'electronics').
  • Each destination site has a different layout and design, and each URL and domain is different.