Armen Hareyan's picture

Search for Honda Odyssey and Toyota Sienna Ranks First

Today we searched for Honda Odyssey and were surprised to see Toyota Sienna ranking first in Google's results. It was an ad, but with a twist.
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When in Firefox one searches Honda Odyssey Google first shows sponsored ads and than it displays the organic results. It is an accepted practice for companies to do advertising using information about specific competitors. But I had never seen an ad titled Honda Odyssey leading to Toyota's website.

Thus, the title of Toyota's ad, seen in the accompanying screen-shot, reads Honda Odyssey, when one searches for Honda's top selling minivan. It kindly invites the surfer to "compare" Toyota Sienna with Honda Odyssey.

Then, moving forward, Toyota lists four bullet points showing the advantages it's Sienna minivan has over Odyssey. Some of them are points like "more van for your buck," long-slide second-row seats sliding up to 23 inches and an All-Wheel Drive system "providing exceptional traction in all weather conditions."

After showing its comparative advantages Toyota offers its visitor either to "Build Your Sienna" or "Find a Dealer."

This all seems OK, but wait a minute. While I have nothing against Toyota and this website has published a number of positive stories about Toyota fairly representing the company, my point is different. I was not searching for Toyota Sienna, but for Honda Odyssey. If Toyota wants to do this advertising it would be fair to represent in those bullet points how Honda describes its Odyssey. Otherwise, the comparison is either one-sided or at least comes with a big conflict of interest.

It would at least be fair to mention that Honda Odyssey was named the safest minivan of 2011 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. While Sienna was ranked high too, it lost to Odyssey by points.

When searching for Toyota Sienna, we did not see Honda advertising in search-results page.


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