Search and Media

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

Zoom Zoom Zoom the Solstice?

A colleague pointed me to the Pontiac-Google story [or vice versa] yesterday. Businessweek reported that Pontiac was infusing Google into its TV ads [circa 1999 AOL keyword ideas anyone?]. The ad asks customers to ‘Google Pontiac’, thus automatically connecting the Pontiac brand with Google, a perceivably trustworthy and global brand.  The problem? A search on “Pontiac” over at produces, as part of sponsored links a Mazda link that reads:

Pontiac vs      Get ready to Zoom Zoom. Sign up to drive a New Mazda MX-5 Miata today!

So the controversy now is that Mazda bid on the Pontiac keyword; successfully gleaning off an entire TV campaign that Pontiac had planned around Google.  The Mazda response to the controversy is here. Mazda says it targeted young folks who might consider Pontiac, while GM is apparently flattered Mazda is bidding on their keywords [wonder how GM’s agency is taking it though?]. However, Pontiac probably has a slight reason to still be worried. Well, not because it is perfectly legal for Mazda to be bidding on Pontiac keywords and that they cannot do anything about it [ala the Geico case] but because they have to be extra careful about careless campaigns like ‘Google Pontiac’ [the AOL keywords on TV ads worked as the products were assigned those keywords, if I am correct].  Curiously enough, the comments on the latest article probably reveals what it really means to Pontiac [albeit a miniscule sample of it]. About 30% of the comments are from people who claim not to see Mazda ads at all [“non-issue. Don’t see any Mazda ads”]. I guess the 80-20 split between organic and paid search will hold some water, simply because people zone out on sponsored links?


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