The North Face, in a campaign with advertising agency Leo Burnett Tailor Made, devised a plan to take their products to the top of Google images by replacing Wikipedia photos with their own product placement photographs.
In the promotional video, the company notes how all trips start with an initial Google search, and often the first image that appears is from a Wikipedia article about the destination. The company took advantage of this fact going to popular tourist destinations such as Guarita State Park in Brazil and Huayna Picchu in Peru to take pictures highlighting their products. Then he changed the original photos of Wikipedia for his own image or, in some cases, Photoshopped a North Face product in an existing photo.
The video boasts how North Face intelligently pirates the results so that its products reach the top of the Google search, "not paying anything at all by collaborating with Wikipedia". Only it was not a collaboration; It was a violation of Wikipedia's terms of service for paid defense. Once the campaign reached Ad Age Wikipedia's volunteer editors removed all product intakes almost immediately and reported that users' accounts violated the terms.
"The biggest obstacle of the campaign was to update the photos without attracting the attention of the Wikipedia moderators". The volunteers quickly found and removed the 12 photos or, in a funny way, they let them stay, but they cut out the North Face logo. pic.twitter.com/sRKljYI4GK
– Mike Dickison (@adzebill) May 28, 2019
Ad Age suggests that, based on the original statement by Leo Burnett Tailor Made, The company may have anticipated the public's negative reaction to its exploitation campaign. Perhaps this article in itself falls into the trap of "all publicity is good publicity" that North Face expected, but it is not really clear how to take advantage of an educational platform for free advertising does nothing but paint your own brand as greedy and dishonest.