Google Ad Words campaign lands Macmillan in further hot water on Twitter over #icebucketchallenge 'hijack' accusations

By Ishbel Macleod | PR and social media consultant

August 25, 2014 | 4 min read

Macmillan Cancer Support has defended itself on Twitter following a barrage of complaints that it ‘stole’ the Ice Bucket Challenge idea away from UK motor neuron charity MND, accusations that have been heightened following its Google AdWords campaign.

Mostly associated with the motor neuron charity ALS Association in the US, those undergoing the challenge in the UK have found themselves torn between MND and Macmillan Cancer.

With many taking to Twitter to accuse Macmillan of ‘hijacking’ the challenge, the charity has retorted that its supporters were actually doing the Ice Bucket Challenge in July, before ALS supporters took up the bucket.

New further complaints have been made after Macmillan launched a paid-for campaign, including Google AdWords and Facebook ads.

However, having bought the term ‘ice bucket challenge’ in Google AdWords, those searching for either ‘ALS ice bucket challenge’ or ‘MND ice bucket challenge’ will see an ad suggesting that visitors “Take the challenge with friends & raise funds for Macmillan” at the top of the page, prior to those of the charities suggested.

When confronted on this, Macmillan said that Google defaulted to its ad because ALS and MND had not bought ads.

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Macmillan has also used Twitter to provide the details for donors to text donations to the MND Association, following complaints that people didn’t know the correct number to use.

The charity has also stated that it was not aiming to divert proceeds to itself, having said that donating to any charity was a positive step.


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