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Standard Chartered’s (paid) search claim ambushed by Mashreq (Updated)

 Standard Chartered Ad Cropped

Episode sets off real time bidding war for the ‘#1 Credit Card’.

On 13 October, Gulf News carried a half page ad from Standard Chartered (above). The creative urged readers to search on Google for #1 credit card. True to the text ‘It’s good to be #1’, Standard Chartered did emerge on top, albeit of the paid search results (ads).

Soon after, the bank was toppled from its numero uno position, by Mashreq Bank.

Here’s what the screen looked like (click to enlarge).

Google Search page after Mashreq unseats Standard Chartered at the top

The message was that Mashreq is “The Real #1 Credit Card”! ‘Awesome to see this happen in real time!’ said a tweet from an adlander.

(Updated at 2.20 pm…)

Well, the story didn’t end there. The bidding war was on, and how! Standard Chartered, we are told, was back on top of the paid search results by then.

Here’s a screen grab* of the search page at 2.15 pm (click to enlarge) for a search of ‘credit card’:

Screen shot 2014-10-13 at 2.26.32 PM

(Updated at 11.30 am on 14 October…)

Some of the tweets by those following the issue went missing (and have been expunged from this story on request).

And Standard Chartered was on top of the Google search troika, with the message ‘#1 Credit Card’.

(Update at 9 am on 15 October*: We thank readers who pointed out a day later on Twitter, that the search at 2.15 pm on October 13 (screen grab above) was for ‘credit card’, not ‘#1 credit card’. If consumers did search for ‘credit card’, as we did, this screen would have greeted them.)



  • Hey, great reporting on real time advertising by Campaign Middle East. Just one problem. Your reporter did a search at 2.15 pm and typed in “#credit card” instead of “#1 credit card”. No wonder HSBC landed right up there.

    You’ve compared apples and oranges and you deserve a pat on the back for another great example of armchair reporting.

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