Unilever warns social platforms to clean up content
Unilever last week threatened to pull its ads from social sites, such as Facebook and YouTube, due to objectionable content and divisive, fabricated news stories.
“Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate,” said Keith Weed, Unilever CMO, in a keynote speech at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. “We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.”
Noting that, due in part to the growing clamor over “fake news,” only 30 percent of U.S. consumers trust social media while 58 percent trust traditional media, Mr. Weed urged the industry to work together to improve transparency and rebuild consumer trust. Said Mr. Weed, “As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online.”
He also called out sexist, racist and extremist content that finds its way next to branded content, a complaint faced by Google’s YouTube.
Mr. Weed stated, “As a brand-led business, Unilever needs its consumers to have trust in our brands. We can’t do anything to damage that trust — including the choice of channels and platforms we use. So, 2018 is the year when social media must win trust back.”
Digital accounts for a quarter of Unilever’s ad budget. Its brands include Dove, Lipton Tea and Ben & Jerry’s.
Last year, rival Procter & Gamble issued a similar warning, and legislators over the last year have criticized social media companies over their inability to ensure trust and safety.
According to a survey of 300 global marketers that came out last September from Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, 72 percent of brand advertisers engaged in programmatic buying were concerned about brand integrity and control in digital display placement.
Liz Miller, the CMO Council’s senior vice president, told USA Today, “There was a time when social networks could do anything they wanted. That attitude has got to change.”
- Unilever will not invest in online platforms that create division – Unilever
- Unilever tells Facebook and Google to clean up online ‘swamp’ or it will pull ads – USA Today
- Unilever Threatens to Reduce Ad Spending on Tech Platforms That Don’t Combat Divisive Content – The Wall Street Journal
- Industry weighs up ramifications of Unilever removing Google, Facebook digital ad budgets – CMO
- Marketers Taking Active Steps To Safeguard Digital Advertising As Programmatic Media Buying Raises Consumer Concerns – CMO Council
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should brands and retailers reconsider how and where they advertise on social media channels? Are boycott threats an effective way to drive changes in social platforms?