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Ford and Google Create Trademark Whitelist for Adwords

Ford has joined with Google to protect the use of the Ford trademarks in Google Adwords campaigns. 

Ford joins other OEM's like Toyota who have created whitelists for ads that use the word "Toyota" in the text of an ad.

Ford's memo also outlines that dealers can not use competing dealer names in their keyword purchasing strategy nor in their SEO meta tag strategy.

Here is an excerpt from a memo that went out to dealers dated May 12th:

In response to a recent increase in conquest advertising by Ford’s competitors using Ford trademarks in Google AdWords advertising, Ford has instituted a “whitelist” policy concerning Google AdWords advertising.

Under the whitelist policy, which Ford has instituted with Google, Google has agreed to reject AdWords advertising that uses Ford trademarks in ad text, unless Ford has specifically approved the advertiser in advance by placing the advertiser on a whitelist with Google.

In order to minimize disruption to legitimate dealer advertising that uses Ford trademarks in Google AdWords text, Ford provided Google an initial whitelist containing Ford’s authorized dealer advertisers.

However, some authorized dealers advertisers were certainly omitted from the initial whitelist. As a result, Google may reject ads submitted by legitimate dealer advertisers. In that case, you may contact Scott Pruett at Team Detroit, who administers the Google whitelist on Ford’s behalf. Scott can add your dealership to the whitelist of approved Google AdWords advertisers.


Please note as well that any multibrand dealers who are “dualled” with competitive vehicle makes may use Ford trademarks in advertising only to promote Ford and Lincoln products, and not otherwise.

Ford has noticed instances of authorized dealers using Ford trademarks in Internet advertising to target other Ford or Lincoln dealers (collectively, “Ford dealers”).

Ford objects to use of Ford’s intellectual property in this manner . Under Paragraph 15(b) of your Dealer Sales and Services Agreement (“DSSA”), you agree that you will use Ford’s trademarks only as approved by Ford. This communication puts all Ford dealers on notice that Ford does not approve of the following uses of Ford trademarks by Ford dealers:

- Purchase of another dealer’s dealership name as an Internet keyword (a Google AdWord or keywords sold by other search providers such as Bing and Yahoo);

- Use of another dealer’s dealership name in hidden text (e.g., “white text”), metatags, or for similar purposes on or in connection with Internet websites;

- Use of another dealer’s dealership name in advertising text or other promotional material
Adherence by dealers with the above policy will assure that Ford’s longstanding intellectual property rights are used only as approved by Ford, as the rights owner, and not by dealers seeking to target one another.

Does This Impact Independent Used Car Dealers?

What is interesting about this whitelist is that an independent car dealer can no longer use the words "Ford" or Lincoln" in their Adwords campaign.  I wonder if this will impact their ability to effectively use Adwords to market their cars.

I also wonder how this will impact automated tools like's TCD product which creates Adwords ads on the fly from used car inventory.   So a Honda dealer that has a used Ford F150 in stock will not be authorized to create a used car ad that includes the word "Ford" in the ad.

This digital marketing environment is always changing and I'll do my best to keep the community informed.  I hope to see many of you at one of our regional education events on the PCG Pit Stop tour as well as at the 2011 DrivingSales Executive Summit.

Education and strategy will be your best defense to stay ahead of the curve.


todd bondy
This is utter nonsense. Prohibiting a non-Ford dealer from advertising its pre-owned Ford is tantamount to restriction of trade. This won't end with Ford. All manufacturers will soon seek this protection.
Bryan Armstrong
Wow! Once again the OEM steps in, though in this case I can see their point. It WILL affect the amount of Used Ford inventory I am willing to carry though. Thanks for the update Brian
Charles Gallaer
Brian, does this move by Ford preclude lead aggregators and information sites like Edmunds or KBB from using Ford/Lincoln and the corresponding model in their Google Adwords?
Ryan Gerardi
Seems like this will put more weight back into to classifieds listings. Most vehicle listings on third-party sites have SEO value allowing vehicles to be picked up in search. I wonder what the impact will be on Google in lost ad revenue?

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