Consumer Watchdog Returns to NYC to Taunt Google

They’re baaaaaack. Consumer Watchdog is back in New York City and back in the news this week, resuming its name-calling battle with Google. The advocacy group and longtime nemesis of the search engine giant is broadcasting Jumbotron video ads all this week in the middle of New York’s Times Square, calling Google “chicken” for dodging a privacy debate. Not coincidentally, the ads are running right in the middle of AdWeek, also in New York City and also where Google has staked out a major presence.

Consumer Watchdog CEO John Simpson sent a letter to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin on Sept. 14 inviting them to the “Google, The Internet and the Future” privacy conference the group planned to host this fall in Washinton, D.C.

When the Google leaders failed to respond, the group turned up the heat, renting a 26′ X 20′ Jumbotron on 42nd Street in the heart of New York City to air a 30-second advertisement that asks, “Why won’t Google debate your privacy with Consumer Watchdog?” and displays an image of a chicken labeled with the famous Google logo.

Consumer Watchdog is after Google for what it perceives as privacy violations by the company, most recently the collection of personal data through its Street View application and Google’s decision to publicize users’ Gmail contacts on its social networking application Buzz.

This is the second time this month alone that Consumer Watchdog has taken their campaign against Google to new heights in the Big Apple. Just a few weeks ago they launched another JumboTron ad in Times Square that depicted Google CEO Eric Schmidt as a maniacal ice cream truck driver giving free ice cream to children while collecting information, spying on them and conducting full body scans to absorb private information through “Google Analytics.” That 15-second ad is scheduled to air 36 times per day through October 15.

The Santa Monica, Calif.-based group says it is using the video ads and accompanying Web site, InsideGoogle.com, to prod Google into offering a “make-me-anonymous” button prominently on the Google home page so users can opt out of being tracked online.

Their latest ad is nothing if not subtle, at one point just displaying, “Google = chicken” on the big screen.