Government Uses PPC Advertising For Reputation Management

We are just over two weeks away from the general election, and for the first time the polls suggest that the Tories have lost ground, while labour gained. The main reason for this appears to be the huge amount of negative press regarding the so-called “dementia tax”.

The latest conservative manifesto has including a section on how social care for the elderly will be funded. The new social care plan will see older people having to finance their own care, and it has largely been interpreted that this will involve requiring people to sell their homes to pay for care when they can no longer look after themselves. Only £100,000 from the equity of a property would be protected to pass on as inheritance, meaning that children could lose most of their inheritance if a parent falls seriously ill. This is creating more anguish for elderly parents who are already worried that their hard-earned wealth will all but vanish by the time their children can inherit.

PPC Campaign To The Rescue

Because of the overwhelming amount of negative press, the Conservatives made the decision to use Google AdWords to promote their own website whenever people searched for “dementia tax”. On Monday 22 May, searching for dementia tax shows the following result at the top of the search results, before the news carousel, with the title “The So-Called Dementia Tax – Are You Getting The Truth?”:

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dementia tax ppc ad 2

Reputation Management Or Desperation?

Reputation management is a vital part of any business today on the Internet. No person or business is immune from the occasional negative story, and the problem with such stories is that they tend to linger around for years following the event. However, in this case, it is more a case of PPC for firefighting than reputation management.

This is not the first time that the Conservatives have used PPC to steer people away from the negative press and towards their own carefully crafted campaign stories. SEMrush reveals that they also recently bid on “free school meals“, after their announcement to abolish the policy created during the coalition with the Liberal Democrats, which provides free school meals to all infant school children.

conservatiives semrush ppc


Stealing Labour’s Thunder?

What is most revealing about the decision to bid on the “dementia tax” keywords, is that it was Labour who coined the phrase. The Tory digital marketing team is literally taking the oppositions campaign slogans and using them against them. This is a cunning piece of digital marketing, which will largely go unnoticed by the electorate – the Conservatives have always called this policy their “Social Care Plans”, and they are not bidding on these keywords:

social care plans search

This is the first time that we have seen UK political parties using Google PPC to drive readers to their own propaganda, and away from the mainstream media, for terms that have been coined by the opposing parties.

Dementia Tax U-Turn

Due to an unprecedented level of criticism from the media, including publications that traditionally support right wing policies, Theresa May decided late on Monday 22 May to ditch the manifesto plan in what has already been called a dementia tax U-turn.  Sir David Butler, a social scientist and psephologist has been studying general elections since the 1940’s, and also co-developed the swingometer, said: “In the 20 general elections I’ve followed, I can’t remember a U-turn on this scale.”

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Can some strategic PPC management save the Tories from their disastrous social care plans and subsequent U-turn? We’ll know the answer in a couple of weeks.

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