PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — One of the world’s top advertisers has threatened to pull ads from online networking giants Facebook and Google over toxic content.
Ad giant Unilever has threatened to pull “spots” from social sites’ so-called “swamps” of fake news, racism, sexism, and extremism.
“I can’t say the investment of Unilever alone being pulled from Facebook and Google would be enough to hurt those giants, because they have so many advertisers spending very large sums within their ad network,” said Annie Heckenberger, an advertising and social media expert. “However, a giant like that stepping out and taking a stand like they have is a bigger thing. The question is whether or not that’s a bellwether, and does that now make Proctor and Gamble and other consumer package goods companies start to also question and rally and line up behind Unilever on this position.”
Unilever owns brands like Dove, Lipton Tea, and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. It has a reported annual marketing budget of $9.8 billion and 25 percent of its ads are digital.
“Facebook has a ton of growing up to do and I think their immediate next steps need to be hiring some experienced people,” Heckenberger said. “A few years ago they hired Campbell Brown who’s an ex journalist. I think they have a great deal of hiring to do in the area of ethics, business management, journalism, and media to understand their responsibility and how that needs to be structured and protected.”
In a statement, Facebook says it fully supports Unilever’s commitments and are working closely with them.