Google ad sales rep Lauren Turner spoke out against Michael Moore’s “Sicko” on a corporate blog, but didn’t stop there. She went on to tell the healthcare industry that Google was there to help them fight back. The industry could counter “Sicko,” she suggested, by buying Google ads promoting all of their good qualities.
I’m all for corporate blogging — transparency is good. In this case, what’s transparent is the fact that Google (or a Google employee – remember, this was a corporate blog, not a corporate statement) feels that advertising is a fine way for deep-pocketed corporations not just to sell products, but to cloud debate on an issue that affects the whole public sphere.
Machinist: But it wants us to believe that we should resolve public policy disputes through search marketing? Advertising is no longer just for selling soap — it’s for democracy, too. Note, first, the irony: Michael Moore accuses the industry of throwing up a haze of marketing, P.R. and lobbying to hide its practices, and Google tells Big Healthcare to respond by buying up more ads.
Turner later posted an apology for the post, but only for her error in framing Google’s policy on the blog; the idea of pushing AdWords/AdSense as a great way to shape public opinion, rather than just to sell products, stood.