Using Competitors’ Names in Google AdWords

How many ways are there to skin a cat, when it comes to cheating students, parents, clients and partners?  Here’s one example that I mentioned in a 12/14 article about (un)ethical agency-based recruitment in Vietnam:

  • Using a well-known competitor’s name in Google AdWords, an example of a dirty trick that is not illegal, but is certainly unethical.

Actually, whether or not it’s illegal depends upon the facts of the case.  I’ll leave that to the trademark lawyers.

cheatingHere’s how it works.  Choose well-known names, corporate or individual, and use them as AdWords so that when potential customers enter them as search terms in Google they will see your ad at the top of the page.  This means that you can use competitors’ trademarks when using AdWords and probably not pay the price, legally and financially speaking.

Here’s a specific, real-life example.  Until the Google Ad was removed, literally overnight, this is what happened when you entered the followed search terms, which the offending company had used as Google AdWords:

mark ashwill vietnam

capstone vietnam fairs

This happened to Capstone Vietnam, my employer, as well as to another company in Vietnam.

What a lame and laughable attempt to piggyback on the good reputation of others in the hope that some gullible people will actually click on their ad.  While it’s obvious to most what’s going on, some will think there’s some sort of connection – what I like to call honor or credibility by association – and do just that.

Here’s a suggestion – why don’t these unethical companies try to improve their own reputation?  Then they wouldn’t have to resort to these dirty tricks and attempt to bask in the glow of their reputable competitors.


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