Microsoft, Walmart and other brands play content police
Brands today are increasingly judged by the company that they keep and some, maybe even most, are becoming more particular in the selection process.
The most recent high-profile example is the retreat of advertisers from Laura Ingraham’s show on Fox News after the conservative pundit took to Twitter to mock David Hogg, one of the students who survived the Parkland High School massacre, for being rejected by the admission departments at four colleges. While some pointed out to Ms. Ingraham the inappropriateness of an adult publicly mocking a teenager (a student with a 4.1 GPA), Mr. Hogg took action on Twitter by calling on his followers to contact the program’s advertisers. The result has been an exodus of advertisers, including Johnson & Johnson, Nestle, Stitch Fix and Wayfair, from Ms. Ingraham’s program, prompting an apology from her roughly 25 hours after she first insulted the teen.
While the dispute with Mr. Hogg created by Ms. Ingraham has gotten the most attention, other cases involving Microsoft and Walmart provide recent examples of brands looking to control their narratives.
Earlier this week, Gizmodo reported that Microsoft has informed users that it will begin enforcing new rules of behavior on its XBox platform beginning on May 1. The tech giant’s user agreement states that accounts may be suspended or closed for violations, including the use of “offensive language” or other “inappropriate content or material.”
According to Gizmodo, profanity and other forms of “offensive language” are commonplace in online shooter games that include chat. How Microsoft will gauge when these communications have gone too far remains to be seen.
Separately, Walmart recently announced a decision to remove Cosmopolitan from its checkout racks after a campaign by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) criticized the magazine for its “hyper-sexualized” photography and content. The retailer said it would continue to sell the magazine in-line and that the decision was made primarily based on business grounds, although it did acknowledge the concerns raised by NCOSE.
- Advertisers Ditch Laura Ingraham After She Mocks Parkland Activist – NPR
- Microsoft Comes for the Trolls With ‘Offensive Language’ Ban on XBox – Gizmodo
- Walmart To Remove ‘Cosmopolitan’ From Checkout Aisle – NPR
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has the definition of brand changed in modern America? Do you agree that retailers and brands are increasingly being judged by the company they keep?