t’s rumoured that PepsiCo will join some of the largest food and beverage multinationals in a Facebook advertising boycott.
Coca-Cola, Unilever, Starbucks, Diageo and The Hershey Company have joined around 160 companies in halting Facebook ads amid concerns about misinformation and hate speech on the platform.
According to reports around 80% of Facebook revenues are from ads and at least one quarter of that comes from companies such as Unilever and Coca-Cola. Facebook shares fell roughly 1% today, after an 8.3% slide on Friday. The two-day decline means roughly US$60 billion has been erased from Facebook’s market value.
The boycott campaign was launched by Free Press and Common Sense, along with US civil rights groups Color of Change and the Anti-Defamation League, following global protests against systemic racism after the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others. The campaign aims to ensure that the social network implements stricter measures to combat hateful and racist content on its platforms.
The organisers have now pledged to take the boycott campaign beyond the United States and into Europe.
“Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society”
Unilever’s 400 brands include hundreds of food products, including Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellmann’s mayonnaise. Its leaders have spoken out in the past against unreliable and unscrupulous platforms and ad players using computerised bots to inflate viewing figures.
Before retiring last year, Unilever’s then CMO Keith Weed said internet advertising needed to be cleaned up, and pledged to pull investment from digital platforms that failed to tackle issues such as toxic content and fake news, in the hope of reducing ad fraud and improving brand safety and quality of online traffic.
Unilever’s marketing spend worldwide was US$8.88 billion in 2019 and in the past Keith Weed has said around 50% of marketing spend in the US was on digital platforms.
On Friday the company issued a statement saying, “We have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US. Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society…
“We will maintain our total planned media investment in the U.S. by shifting to other media.”
James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company said, “We expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners… There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days.”