What might David Ogilvy say about the counterfeiters advertising on Google?

January 10, 2010 § Leave a comment

“Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things.” – David Ogilvy.

As the influential author of several books and the subject of many others, Ogilvy, who was responsible for the memorable campaigns of many large brands, including American Express and Rolls Royce, was for decades considered one of the industry’s top pens.

It seems inevitable that an advertising professional looking back on his or her career would see a sizable pile of witticisms, a great heap of realized and discarded sayings, but Ogilvy not only saw a veritable mountain range of clever world play aimed at moving products in his rearview, many of his most memorable musings had a moral message.*

Ogilvy felt a copywriter ought to believe in a product before he or she sold it. He was famous for suggesting that if either you or a member of your family wouldn’t use a certain product, then you had no business endorsing it.

So when faced with the recent criticism of Google for taking profits from advertisers who peddle counterfeit goods, what is a most clever advertising professional to do?

A recent Times article states that “thousands of Britons are being duped into buying goods that are fake or simply never arrive, as well as putting their credit or debit card details at risk of fraud.”

We know for certain that there is nothing good in the exploitation of innocents for the profit of a few. This is what counterfeiting requires. We’ve detailed the human rights abuses that occur in the production process. We know that counterfeiting is often used to finance terrorism and other forms of illegal trafficking. So while we commend Google’s official policy that prohibits any advertising on behalf of websites that sell counterfeit goods, we believe the practice needs to be tightened.

If Google discovers a site slinging sham goods, a company spokesperson maintains that the site will be taken down immediately. Further, the company has security measures to prevent the advertisement from reappearing. This is certainly good, but when you consider the number of advertisers Google hosts, it is an admittedly difficult thing to monitor.

Though it may be difficult, it is not impossible.

We encourage Google to ramp up its security measures and to police dubious sites more frequently. An effective way to do so might be to monitor the original price set by the legitimate manufacturers and search for severe discounting.

We are the last to bemoan a good sale, just as long as it’s legal.

Remember, the responsibility does not fall on Google alone. As consumers, we all bear some, as does the name brand. We must work together to defend the art of luxury products and those that are exploited by the production of counterfeits. End the ignorance and by doing so, empower others.

This brings to mind another Ogilvy gem. “I prefer the discipline of knowledge to the anarchy of ignorance.”

So do we. Help us end the ignorance surrounding the fake trade.

*We can’t confirm whether or not Ogilvy cared for alliteration, but you know how we feel.

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