CSK Aesthetics Clinic’s Unethical Advertising

Prive Aesthetics

Singapore’s aesthetics industry is highly competitive and sometimes the clinics can go overboard with their advertising. While Google does not restrict advertisers from using trademarked terms in the keywords, using them in the ad copy (i.e. Ad Text) is a different story altogether – especially when the intention is to mislead the unsuspecting user.

Just how competitive is the industry? Here are some related keywords and the estimated CPCs:

  • acne scar removal – S$12.85
  • aesthetic clinic – S$8.75
  • ipl treatment – S$7.23
  • hair removal – S$6.57

Over the last 10 years, I’ve managed the campaigns for a handful of dermatologists and aesthetic clinics, and the annual ad spend has been in the range of a high five-figure to a low six-figure.

Yesterday, we found a competitor using our client’s brands in their ad text – see screenshots above and below. See how the ad heading shows “Prive Aesthetics” and “Prive Clinic”, while the display URL (and destination URL) is “cskclinics.com”?

Prive Clinic

This is highly unethical and infringes on our client’s trademarks. While the initial thought had been that this was unintentional, e.g. through Dynamic Keyword Insertion, I found it to be unlikely upon further investigation. Because if that was the case, a search for “prive aesthetic clinic” (23 characters) would’ve caused the search word to display in the ad title but instead this was what I got:

Prive Aesthetic Clinic

Hence, the action was most likely deliberate.

So what can you do when someone hijacks your brand? The first thing is to file a complaint through Google’s trademark complaint form. Then contact the advertiser to stop the ad immediately, failing which, you can proceed with legal action.

Updated: 31st Jan 2015

CSK has clarified that it was an unintended error made by their media agency. They also claimed to have “immediately explained that it was an unintended technical glitch and took steps to have the erroneous ad taken down by Google”.