Lysol Buys Ad Around Google Searches for ‘Ebola’

Exploiting public fear?

Lysol capitalized on the recent Ebola scare by purchasing a sponsored placement on Google searches for "Ebola," Motherboard reported. 

The publication noted Tuesday that Lysol's paid ad appeared at the top of the search page with this copy: "What Is Ebola – Learn the Facts About Ebola Virus From Lysol. Find More Info Now." Non-commercial websites, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, still topped the organic search results. By Wednesday afternoon, Lysol's ad no longer appeared.

When people clicked on the link, they were taken to Lysol's branded site on Ebola—one post with a link to the official CDC Ebola news page. A blurb on Lysol's page said the CDC recommends using disinfectants to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. According to the company, that includes hospital-grade disinfectant Lysol, though it admits it has "not been specifically tested to kill the Ebola virus," but is "likely to be effective." 

Lysol has added Ebola information to its home page, to, which features a large image of the virus along with the slogan "Safeguarding Against the Spread of Ebola."

This isn't the first time Lysol has capitalized on fear of disease to sell products. In 1918, the company's previous owners Lehn & Fink touted the disinfectant as a means of eliminating the Spanish Flu.

Not everyone approves of Lysol's strategy. Dr. Abdulrahman M. El-Sayed, an epidemiologist at Columbia University, sent the following statement to Motherboard: "I think this is a corporation riding on false fears of an epidemic to sell its product, thus reinforcing those fears." 

El-Sayed pointed out that while Lysol would kill any trace of Ebola on nonporous surfaces in hospitals, there is no evidence that a homeowner's use of Lysol would lower the already minimal risk of catching the disease outside a medical facility.