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An Aruba Teachable Moment Resurfaces Almost Four Years Later

Aruba one scary island

Today, a comment posted to this blog reminded me of a teachable moment. Think Aruba. A screen capture of the comment is at the end of this post. Danger. It is not suitable for children … work … or anywhere.

I won’t be approving it for publication on this site, but knew some would want evidence of the comment here. Over time, I’ve received other comments and emails (one time for someone writing a paper on the Aruba campaign and on what we did here). Usually I delete the comments. Today, not so much. Four years seems to call out for another chance to share the lesson.

Aruba one scary island

My redesign of the logo Deutsch came up with for the rebranding campaign.

PR / Marketing Practitioner Makes Big Mistake

Just about four years ago, that teachable moment arrived in my inbox. Deutsch Inc. – in all their PR/marketing brilliance (not) – decided to accept the Aruba rebranding account for the island nation that took Natalee Holloway from us. They also decided that pitching me to write about their new grand plan was *just an ever so splendid* idea. Um, nope.

I didn’t know Natalee, but some of my students did. The events surrounding her disappearance had a sad profound effect upon them. So, I saw this as a teachable moment opportunity.

Why Do It?

The opportunity?  Well, think of it as a mini-case study. It would: (a) Highlight PR media outreach bad practice (this one by Deutsch, Inc). (b) Illustrate good SEO tactics by publishing the release so it would perform well in a search for “Aruba Happy Island”. [Hey, Deutsch wanted that, right?] and (c) Do it so the post served as a long lasting reminder in search engine front page results.

My contribution to the post was replacing the links to Aruba with links to stories of Natalee Holloway and a redesign of their campaign’s logo.

I still refer to this in classes when we’re discussing SEO. I use it to show that the students can also use proper tactics to make their posts perform well in search.

Today’s Event is Another Teachable Moment

Well, today’s comment (laced with angry caustic profanity) from an Argentina IP address proved the post still lives on in search results … on the front page. Hey, just go to Google and search for “Aruba Happy Island” or “Aruba One Happy Island” … even try it in Bing & Yahoo! Let me know if it lands on the front page for you in search results.  If it does, please click on it.

Today, I still would not encourage anyone to visit that island. They never stepped up and did the right thing. And, I’m doubtful the island is any safer today than it was four years ago. Recommend Aruba for a high school senior trip? What, are you crazy!

See the original post.

Foolish Argentinian Commenter

Someone found the original Aruba One Happy Island post on this blog … and didn’t like it very much.


  1. Did the searches – bottom of first page for first term, mid-page on second term. The cool thing is you’re first in Google Images.

    • Thanks, Jeremy. The image search thing is pretty cool. If only we could accomplish the same for simply an “Aruba” search. But, that would take much more juice and mojo to pull off.