Oceana has launched an online awareness and action campaign to get their anti-Royal Caribbean ads placed back into Google AdWords searches for the cruise line with the controversial sewage treatment system.
The other week Oceana placed two advertisements with Google, the first describing Oceana’s mission and linking to the organization’s website, http://www.oceana.org, the second focusing on Oceana’s well-known campaign to stop cruise pollution. Google removed the ads after two days, citing the cruise pollution ad for “language that advocates against Royal Caribbean,” and the general ad for using “language advocating against the cruise line industry and cruisers.” Both ads directly targeted keywords dealing with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, a practice Google does not look happy upon.
Google’s public editorial guidelines make no mention of any such specific prohibition, stating only that the company reserves the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising it accepts.
Now, Oceana has taken their battle to the Internet with a campaign to email Google Management about reinstating their activist advertising on Google AdWords.
The new campaign reads:
Oceana recently bought two ads with Google for its Web sites oceana.org and StopCruisePollution.com. Only two days after the ads started running, Google shut them down.
Why? They tell us that they will not run any ad containing or linking to a Web site with “language critical of Royal Caribbean” or “the cruise industry”!
Never mind that none of their written policies include such a rule, and only one of the two canceled ads even mentions Royal Caribbean in the first place.
Why did Google stop our ads from running? Send an e-mail to them asking them why saving the oceans is too hot of an issue for Google to handle!
An excerpt from the email to Google which anyone can send from the Oceana site reads:
Recently, your AdWords service rejected two advertisements placed by the international ocean advocacy group Oceana (http://www.oceana.org/) on the grounds that they “contained language critical of Royal Caribbean” and “contained language critical of the cruise industry” — even though there is no policy banning such language in either your Editorial Guidelines (https://adwords.google.com/select/guidelines.html) or Advertising Terms and Conditions (https://adwords.google.com/select/main?cmd=Doc&page=TermsAndConditions.html).
According to a Google statement to the Associated Press:
The ad violated Google’s policy against ads criticizing other groups or companies, said spokeswoman Cindy McCaffrey.
“We set the editorial guidelines the way we want them,” McCaffrey said.
Google has recently unofficially banned purchasing of AdWords advertising for trademarked terms such as company names or products. Google may not have a problem with Oceana’s message, but the AdWords campaigns targeted to keywords such as “Royal Caribbean” could in fact draw legal fire at Google for abusing a trademarked name.
It will be interesting to see the course of action that Google takes in response to the Oceana campaign, and how this will effect AdWords and acrorss the board keyword advertisement targeting for trademarked terms.