Google miraculously heals the sick

by Sterling Camden

Apparently, Google thinks they’re so un-evil that they can expiate the sins of their advertising clients.

Lauren Turner, posting on the Google Health Advertising Blog, criticizes Michael Moore’s new movie, Sicko:

Moore attacks health insurers, health providers, and pharmaceutical companies by connecting them to isolated and emotional stories of the system at its worst. Moore’s film portrays the industry as money and marketing driven, and fails to show healthcare’s interest in patient well-being and care.

Sound familiar? Of course. The healthcare industry is no stranger to negative press. A drug may be a blockbuster one day and tolled as a public health concern the next. News reporters may focus on Pharma’s annual sales and its executives’ salaries while failing to share R&D costs. Or, as is often common, the media may use an isolated, heartbreaking, or sensationalist story to paint a picture of healthcare as a whole. With all the coverage, it’s a shame no one focuses on the industry’s numerous prescription programs, charity services, and philanthropy efforts.

But her point is not so much to trash the movie as it is to reveal a marketing opportunity:

Many of our clients face these issues; companies come to us hoping we can help them better manage their reputations through “Get the Facts” or issue management campaigns. Your brand or corporate site may already have these informational assets, but can users easily find them?

We can place text ads, video ads, and rich media ads in paid search results or in relevant websites within our ever-expanding content network. Whatever the problem, Google can act as a platform for educating the public and promoting your message. We help you connect your company’s assets while helping users find the information they seek.

If you’re interested in learning more about issue management campaigns or about how we can help your company better connect its assets online, email us. We’d love to hear from you! Setting up these campaigns is easy and we’re happy to share best practices.

A number of bloggers provided their own translations of this post this morning, but none more succinctly than Cory Doctorow:

But why make your customers healthier — at shareholder expense — when you can just give money to Google to FUD and astroturf the issue?

I haven’t seen Sicko yet, though I plan to. Have you? My family and I have experienced more than our fair share of mistreatment from health care providers and especially insurers. I have a hunch, though, that “fair” is the operative word here — and that it’s not at all “uncommon”. I’m hoping that Sicko provides a thorough treatment of these practices.

What do you think of Google using its advertising might to influence public opinion? If the public’s perception of information becomes (or has already become) a major concern of the world’s primary broker of information, then we may well be on our way to a dystopia of disinformation.

Followup post: Quick update on Google’s “Sicko” Controversy

UPDATE: Lauren Turner responds.   Advertising = democracy?  Thanks, I feel much better now.

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20 Responses to Google miraculously heals the sick

  1. I wrote a little about national healthcare today. I haven't seen Sicko yet – I'm really not a fan of Michael Moore anymore. Roger & Me was fantastic and I am a fan of his earlier books – but he was critical of big business and government back then. Now he's just critical of everything non-Democrat.

    I am a proponent of national healthcare, though. We HAVE socialized medicine now. That is, the middle class (who can afford insurance) has to pay for those who can't. In between, we also pay for insurance profits, the paperwork processing, the liability, malpractice, malpractice insurance… the list goes on an on.

    Healthcare is not a business problem, it's a social issue.

  2. I wrote a little about national healthcare today. I haven’t seen Sicko yet – I’m really not a fan of Michael Moore anymore. Roger & Me was fantastic and I am a fan of his earlier books – but he was critical of big business and government back then. Now he’s just critical of everything non-Democrat.

    I am a proponent of national healthcare, though. We HAVE socialized medicine now. That is, the middle class (who can afford insurance) has to pay for those who can’t. In between, we also pay for insurance profits, the paperwork processing, the liability, malpractice, malpractice insurance… the list goes on an on.

    Healthcare is not a business problem, it’s a social issue.

  3. It's definitely a social issue, Doug. Question is: how do we solve it in a way that meets people's needs without compromising their liberty and their property?

  4. It’s definitely a social issue, Doug. Question is: how do we solve it in a way that meets people’s needs without compromising their liberty and their property?

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  6. Pingback: University Update - Michael Moore - Google miraculously heals the sick

  7. Google has already demonstrated that they're unclean on social issues, and that their "do no evil" concept is dead, so there should be no surprises here.

  8. Google has already demonstrated that they’re unclean on social issues, and that their “do no evil” concept is dead, so there should be no surprises here.

  9. Pingback: University Update - Sicko - Google miraculously heals the sick

  10. Pingback: Quick update on Google’s “Sicko” Controversy | [Geeks Are Sexy] Technology News

  11. Maybe MM (him, not me) was partisan before, but I have read that he basically writes off almost all professional politicians in this movie, in both parties. It is important to be able to turn to people you agree with about many things and say – "you are so wrong on this point, and I am not going to let you hide it". Keeping them honest, I guess…

  12. Maybe MM (him, not me) was partisan before, but I have read that he basically writes off almost all professional politicians in this movie, in both parties. It is important to be able to turn to people you agree with about many things and say – “you are so wrong on this point, and I am not going to let you hide it”. Keeping them honest, I guess…

  13. I saw Sicko. I can't say I like it, but I can't say I dislike it. I can only say he makes some good points. It may seem that Google has every interest to protect their revenues.

    • I don't begrudge Google their revenues, but I do worry that maybe we put a bit too much faith in Google's fairness of, say, search results if they are beginning to have a real monetary interest in painting certain facts one way or the other.

  14. I saw Sicko. I can’t say I like it, but I can’t say I dislike it. I can only say he makes some good points. It may seem that Google has every interest to protect their revenues.

    • I don’t begrudge Google their revenues, but I do worry that maybe we put a bit too much faith in Google’s fairness of, say, search results if they are beginning to have a real monetary interest in painting certain facts one way or the other.