What major brands say about their Facebook adspend freeze

Facebook: Stop Hate for Profit campaign started on 1 July
Facebook: Stop Hate for Profit campaign started on 1 July

In the name of Stop Hate for Profit, brands including Ben & Jerry's and Coca-Cola speak out about pulling spend.

Brands boycotting Facebook are multiplying as the Stop Hate for Profit drive adopted by civil-rights groups continues to garner support. The list of companies supporting the campaign had swelled to more than 900 as of 6 July.

In June, a coalition consisting of Color Of Change, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation LeagueSleeping GiantsFree Press and Common Sense Media called on Facebook’s advertisers to pause their adspend on Facebook and Instagram in July to demand that the company address racism across its platforms.

Some advertisers have paused social media spending on Facebook for July only, while others are planning longer periods. In response, Facebook has said that it will start to label potentially harmful posts.

So what have big brands said publicly about their decision to freeze, or pause, spending?

Adidas

Adidas will pause advertising for Adidas and Reebok on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July, a spokeswoman said on 29 June. The company will take the next 30 days to "develop criteria to hold ourselves and every one of our partners accountable for creating and maintaining safe environments".

Ben & Jerry’s 

The Unilever ice-cream brand announced that it would pause Facebook ads ahead of Unilever joining the cause. "Facebook must take the clear and unequivocal actions to stop its platform from being used to spread and amplify racism and hate," the brand wrote in a tweet on 23 June. 

Birchbox 

The direct-to-consumer beauty-product specialist said: "We want Facebook to acknowledge this demand for change and to commit to making the necessary changes on StopHateforProfit.org."

Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and chief executive of Birchbox, added; "We spend almost all of our money on Facebook, Instagram and Google; that’s really it." Beauchamp said 60% of Birchbox sales are generated by paid media.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola issued this statement from James Quincey, chairman and chief executive, about its social media platform pause on its website: "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.

"We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners."

Corona

Constellation, owner of Corona, as well as several wine and spirits brands, confirmed on 29 June that it would pause Facebook and Instagram spending throughout July. The company stated that it is "assessing our policies and approach towards all media platforms in solidarity with efforts to combat the spread of discriminatory and hateful content and to promote social justice".

The business also stated it would invest $100m in the next 10 years on black and minority-owned beverage start-ups and donate $1m to the Equal Justice Initiative. It is also "reviewing recruitment, hiring and talent development practices to ensure African American/black talent is supported and unconscious bias is addressed at all levels".

Danone

On 1 July, Danone said it is pausing global advertising on Facebook and Instagram as it engages with the management globally and in each country where it operates. "With our latest evaluation, it has become clear to us that more needs to be done to combat hate speech and drive sustained systemic change at the industry level," Gemma Hart, vice-president of communications and community affairs at Danone North America, said in a statement.

Danone did not give a set end date for its paused advertising on the platforms. "This pause will continue until we feel that our global standards have been met and we feel confident that these two social platforms are safe environments. Countries will be empowered to make their own decisions on restarting the use of these platforms, depending on their assessment locally," Hart added. 

Diageo

The owner of brands including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness is pausing spend on all major social media platforms, including Twitter, globally starting 1 July. Diageo announced the decision on Twitter on 27 June in this statement: "Diageo strives to promote inclusion and diversity, including through our marketing campaigns. From 1 July, we will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms. We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content."

Ford

On 29 June, the car-maker announced a 30-day social media pause that includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter in the US. But it will continue to use local platforms in China and "we are evaluating participation in Europe and South America", a spokesman said, adding: "Ford’s audience-first media strategy means we are not dependent on a single channel to deliver our plans. We can redirect investment to other video, display and audio formats to accomplish our business objectives."

H Samuel

The high-street jewellery retailer issued a statement on Instagram on 2 July saying: "We stand for love and do not tolerate any form of hate. Our paid campaigns have been paused as we are joining the #StopHateForProfit boycott of Facebook in July. @naacp @colorofchange @adl_national – we hear you and we stand with you."

Henkel

Henkel, whose brands include Loctite and Dylon, joined the boycott on 30 June and will not advertise its brands on Facebook’s platforms, including Instagram, in July. "Henkel stands for tolerance, diversity and respect, and speaks out against all forms of racism, discrimination, hate and violence," a spokeswoman said. "We also expect this attitude from all of our business partners around the world, including our advertising partners."

HP

The PC and printer brand joined the boycott on 29 June. A statement said: "HP is a purpose-driven brand and we expect all platforms on which we advertise to uphold responsible policies that prevent our ads from appearing alongside objectionable content, regardless of the source.

"We have expressed deep concerns to Facebook and are stopping US advertising on the platform until we see more robust safeguards in place. We are also reviewing our social media strategy across all markets and platforms, and we will take additional actions as needed to protect our brand and combat hateful content."

Honda

The car-maker's US division on 26 June became the first automotive brand to publicly join the movement, stating that during July it would "withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism".

Kimberly-Clark

The maker of Huggies and Kleenex has paused all advertising on Facebook platforms in the US and Canada for the month of July "and will continue to evaluate Facebook’s progress", a spokesman stated on 30 June.

"Kimberly-Clark is committed to only engaging with media partners that support our values and meet our standards for safety, civility and tolerance. We have a responsibility to foster digital platforms into inclusive, respectful environments where people can safely have conversation about health, well-being, stigmas and taboos without fear of hostility, bullying or hate speech."

Kellogg

Kellogg said it is pausing advertising globally on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter starting 1 July, as it carries out its own evaluation of the "marketing supplier ecosystem" to ensure they meet its guidelines.

Chief growth officer Monica McGurk said: "We agree Facebook should make swift and meaningful improvements to its platform that will foster productive discourse over inciting divisiveness and potential violence.

"This campaign has elevated these issues for all advertisers and, at the same time, Kellogg needs to determine our own path forward in the context of its total commitment to championing diversity and inclusion in its global practices and commercial strategy, as well as against our goals of media and marketing excellence." 

Lego

Lego is pausing its spend globally on social platforms for "at least 30 days", the brand announced on its website on 1 July. Lego stated it will review the standards it applies to "advertising and engagement on global social media platforms".

The toy-maker will not change its investment, but will instead shift its spend to other channels. "We are committed to having a positive impact on children and the world they will inherit," Julia Goldin, chief marketing officer, wrote. "That includes contributing to a positive, inclusive digital environment free from hate speech, discrimination and misinformation."

Levi’s

The clothing company will pause all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally "at least" through the end of July, chief marketing officer Jen Sey stated in a corporate blog post on 26 June, noting: "When we re-engage will depend on Facebook’s response." Sey acknowledged some of the recent steps Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has taken, but "it’s simply not enough", she said.

Mars

Food giant Mars says it will pause paid advertising globally across news-feed-based social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat, beginning in July. Among other goals, Mars wants to see "meaningful progress against the key demands of the #StopHateforProfit campaign," the company said in a statement

Molson Coors

The owner of Coors Light, Miller Lite and Blue Moon will "pause Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while we revisit our own advertising standards to create better guardrails to protect our brands and address the spread of hate speech", chief marketing officer Michelle St Jacques stated in an internal memo.

Microsoft

The tech giant is estimated to have invested $116m in Facebook advertising in 2019, according to Pathmatics, reportedly making it the third-largest sponsor of the platform after Samsung and Procter & Gamble.

Although no formal declaration of support for #StopHateForProfit has been made to date, an internal message from chief marketing officer Chris Capossela has been widely circulated online that said: "We’ve also learned from experience that it doesn’t help our customers, our media partners or Microsoft to publicize our media spend strategy".

But in the same message exchange, apparently with a Microsoft staffer, Capossela reportedly stated that the business took its suspension decision in May and has communicated to Facebook what changes it needs to see put into action before it will consider revising its position. 

PepsiCo

The drinks giant pledged to "temporarily pause our paid advertising on social media platforms". A spokeswoman confirmed the move is global, but that the company was not specifically signing on to the Facebook boycott.

"We will use this period to confer with our partners and determine what more we can do to help forge a healthier digital ecosystem. At the same time, we will lead an industry-wide effort to develop systemic solutions that protect the integrity of our brands and make the social internet a more welcoming, inclusive place for all," according to the announcement, which came five days after Coca-Cola pledged to pause social spending. 

Pfizer

The pharmaceuticals giant will pause Facebook and Instagram advertising for the month of July in support of the #StopHateforProfit movement, the company said in a statement. "Today we are asking Facebook to take proactive steps to ensure that their platforms are safe and trusted spaces for all," chairman and chief executive Albert Bourla said.

Pfizer said it is calling on Facebook to "continue listening to the concerns of the #StopHateforProfit movement and take action on their product recommendations". The company added that it will continue to "dialogue" with Facebook on these issues.

Patagonia

The California-based brand on 21 June froze its Facebook and Instagram spend "at least until the end of July, pending meaningful action from the social media giant", marketing head Cory Bayers said in a statement.

Pernod Ricard 

Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Absolut and Jameson, announced on 1 July that it would pause all social media spending for July.

"Movements like #StopHateForProfit are demonstrating that brands and consumers want them to take more urgent action. This is important and it is why we are joining the movement for the next 30 days across all paid social media platforms, not just Facebook," Pernod Ricard US chief executive Ann Mukherjee said.

SAP

Software giant SAP announced its support for Stop Hate for Profit in a statement at the beginning of July that said: "SAP will suspend all paid advertisements across Facebook and Instagram until the company signals a significant, action-driven commitment to combating the spread of hate speech and racism on its platforms.

"In order for real, meaningful change to occur, we must recognise, acknowledge and address our own role in the systems that perpetuate systemic racism."

Starbucks

The world’s largest coffee company paused advertising on all social media platforms in the US, starting in July. Starbucks said it is continuing discussions internally, and with its media partners and civil-rights organisations, "in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech".

The Body Shop

On 1 July, the first day of the boycott, The Body Shop announced it was joining by pausing all paid US advertising on Facebook-owned channels for July. The brand said it might continue its pause "pending Facebook’s response".

"When we see the current dialogue in the US around anti-racism and equality, we continue to be concerned by the spread of hateful content and disinformation online, and the potential for this to affect the democratic right of Americans to have access to fair and balanced elections this fall," a brand spokesperson said.

"At this critical time in the US, we respectfully ask that Facebook strengthens its content-moderation policies and enforces them consistently."

The North Face

On 19 June, the clothing retailer became the first high-profile brand to join the boycott, saying it would pause its US spend immediately, "until stricter policies are put in place to stop racist, violent or hateful content and misinformation from circulating on the platform".

Unilever

On 26 June, the FMCG giant halted all adspend on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the US through the end of the year. The company had spent $42.3m on Facebook (not including Instagram) ads in 2019 and $2.1m each month in April and May, according to Pathmatics.

Its ice-cream brand Ben & Jerry’s made the move even earlier on 23 June.

Vans

Part of VF Corp, Vans signed on to the Facebook ad pause for July. The North Face and JanSport are also part of VF, and had already joined. VF still has many other brands, including Timberland, Eastpak and Dickies, that have not commented on the boycott as yet.

Vans said in a statement: "The brand commits to diverting their advertising investment to support black communities through empowerment and education programs, and expand the brand’s support of racial equality and access initiatives."

Volkswagen Group

VW confirmed that it would suspend Facebook and Instagram ads globally from 30 June. The move does not include VW dealerships, which operate independently.

"Hate speech, discriminating comments and posts containing dangerous false information must not be published uncommented and must have consequences," the company said.

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