Volkswagen Emissions Fallout Hits Paid Search

sam.engel Oct 13, 2015

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is probably the biggest hit that a brand has taken since BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The financial impact has the potential to be tremendous. Current estimates show that VW could be on the hook for $18 billion in EPA fines alone, plus legal fees and the cost of recalling 500,000 vehicles in the US.

Volkswagen has already set aside $7.4 billion for the recall. That's a sizable sum, so we were curious to see whether it might lead to any opportunistic advertising in paid search. We've been monitoring for a set of VW-related terms for a little over a week, and have already been finding some interesting examples:

Law Firms Seize the Opportunity


"Class Action"

Volkswagen-Emissions-Ad-1


"Get Compensated"

Volkswagen-Emissions-Ad-3


"Fraud"

Volkswagen-Emissions-Ad-6


"Sue VW"

Volkswagen-Emissions-Ad-4


Options for Damage Control?

Regardless of your perspective on the scandal itself, it's clear that this has become a communications nightmare for VW. And these paid search ads only reinforce that scandal by labeling it with terms such as "fraud."

Volkswagen has responded by placing its own ads, using the domain vwdieselinfo.com:

Volkswagen-Emissions-Ad-2

What do you think of this strategy? Will it help quell some of the fallout? If you were Volkswagen, how would you approach this?

Topics: Paid Search

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