80% of top UK brands at risk from online trolls

According to domain name registrar 34SP.com, 80 per cent of the leading 100 UK brands are yet to register the top level domains (TLDs) that pose a huge reputational threat. Dove, Cadbury, Kitkat, and BBC .sucks domains are just a handful still up for grabs to anyone that wants to buy them.

Vodafone, Barclays, ASDA, and ASOS are some of the more cautious UK brands to purchase the controversial domains released by Canadian domain registrar, Vox Populi, before they fell into the wrong hands. Vodafone, Barclays, Lloyds, and Nationwide have gone as far as to splash out on .sucks domains under a variety of versions of their brand terms or well-known phrases; with Nationwide even registering nationwideisonyourside.sucks.

US brands were vocal when preregistering the domains whilst they were in their sunrise period and only available to trademarked holders, with Taylor Swift, Kevin Spacey, and Microsoft all saying they’d bought them. And a similar response was anticipated by 34SP.com for UK brands once the TLDs were available to the general public.

Daniel Foster, co-founder and technical director at 34SP.com said: “It’s fairly obvious that brands should do everything in their power to avoid the vulnerability posed by the torment of online trolls – especially household names that might be more susceptible.

“We’ve been surprised by the low number of UK brands that have registered these domains, however. Although the term ‘sucks’ might not resonate with the UK audience, a lot of these brands are known internationally, so the domains really shouldn’t be ignored.

“Though this does all sound like bad news, the .sucks domains can be used in a positive way. Cancer.sucks, for example, has been registered which offers a brilliant opportunity for a marketing campaign for a cancer charity.

Mr Foster also said that companies should register the .sucks domains before it is too late.

“Our advice to businesses generally is to seriously consider registering .sucks domains before someone else does. Paying the annual cost could be pennies of what a company might need to fork out if the domain is registered by someone else; and the business has a crisis management issue on its hands if controversial content is hosed under its name.”