Those of you who read

The Times





or the


this week probably heard about the campaign against Marks & Spencer by Britain’s biggest union, Unite.

Anybody who knows about internet marketing probably wondered why a story about somebody using Google Adwords to bid on a brand name was such big news, myself included.

Google has a strict trademark policy and the ads were swiftly removed from terms such as “marks & spencers” and “m&s”.

Here is what Google says about trademarks:

“When we receive a complaint from a trademark owner, our review is limited to ensuring that the advertisements at issue are not using a term corresponding to the trademarked term in the ad text or as a keyword trigger.

“If they are, we will require the advertiser to remove the trademarked term from the ad text or keyword list and will prevent the advertiser from using the trademarked term in the future.”

This campaign was doomed to failure from the start and yet four major newspapers covered the story.

Unite is claiming the ads had “12,000 hits” in six hours but the number of people who actually clicked on the ads must be tiny.

Anybody searching for Marks & Spencer is probably a loyal follower wanting to visit the website and isn’t likely to click on somebody else’s advert.

It’s clear that the Adwords campaign was a waste but the resulting publicity is priceless.