Unilever’s advertising ultimatum to Facebook and Google – Clean up “toxic content”

636541151077235256Brand-construction-site-585059356_6000x4000.jpg

13 Feb 2018 --- British-Dutch transnational consumer goods company Unilever is calling for Google and Facebook to clean their acts or face the threat of having advertising withdrawn from online platforms that fail to eradicate divisive content that promotes anger and hate. 

Unilever’s chief marketing officer, Keith Weed, was making a speech to major advertising, media and tech firms gathered at a conference in California. It comes at a time when social media and tech companies are coming under fire for failing to protect children and to eradicate fake news, extremism and hate speech. 

Unilever owns over 400 brands, with a turnover in 2016 of more than €50bn (US$61.5bn), Unilever’s top brands include Dove, Magnum, Persil, Marmite, Hellmann's, Knorr, Lipton, Lux, Magnum, Rama and many more. 

“As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don’t trust what they see online,” Weed said.

Click to Enlarge“We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain – one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers – which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.”

“It is in the digital media industry’s interest to listen and act on this. Before viewers stop viewing, advertisers stop advertising and publishers stop publishing.”

“Fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children – parts of the internet we have ended up with is a million miles from where we thought it would take us,” Weed added.

Toxic environment 
Following the Unilever comments, Ronan Stafford, Lead Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, says that this is not the first time Unilever has raised such concerns about the toxic environment social media represents to brands and consumers. However, Weed’s speech goes one step further, representing a “more active change in posture.” 

“Social media sites have not had great press in recent months, but consumer brands and media companies need to find a way to work together as people’s lives move increasingly online and the ability to reach them using traditional media channels diminishes,” he said. 

“Brands have to follow consumers and the decline of traditional media such as print and television cable services means that brands don’t have a strong alternative to online advertising. This makes it even more likely that they’ll take action: a safe and clean online world is increasingly vital to their profitability.”

Stafford adds how social media companies are taking action, citing YouTube’s recent announcement of a new initiative called “Preventing Harm to the Broader YouTube Community.” 

“This initiative recognizes the harm being done to YouTube as a platform connecting content creators and consumers, and seeks to repair this relationship,” he said. “These types of initiatives are a good first step, but there is a mountain to climb. Further active measures will need to be taken to repair the fractured relationship between advertisers, content creators, and viewers.”

“This isn’t the first time a consumer company has threatened to take action unless social media companies improved their services. Procter & Gamble previously reduced its spending on digital platforms by millions of dollars after an investigation found its adverts were being paired with inappropriate material, such as pro-ISIS videos.” 

Stafford concludes how Unilever’s recent stance shows that, rather than an exception, this type of detailed vetting of online advertisers will become the norm.

By Gaynor Selby

To contact our editorial team please email us at editorial@cnsmedia.com

Related Articles

Food Ingredients News

“Confident in UK chocolate future”: Barry Callebaut acquires UK-based Burton’s Biscuit Company’s chocolate manufacturing assets

10 Dec 2018 --- Barry Callebaut has completed the transaction to acquire Burton’s Biscuit Company’s chocolate manufacturing assets in the UK. It comes after the cocoa giant signed an agreement with the UK’s second biggest biscuit manufacturer, for the long-term supply of more than 12,000 tons of chocolate and compound per year in September. The deal comes just months before the UK is set to leave the EU and Barry Callebaut has highlighted Britain as a significant growth region for the company.

Food Ingredients News

On trend: Symrise develops tea and coffee flavors for dairy applications

10 Dec 2018 --- Flavors and fragrance supplier Symrise is now offering a collection of specialty flavors designed to deliver the popular tastes of coffee and tea to dairy products, including milkshakes, yogurts and ice cream. According to Symrise, this new collection provides “a gateway to a unique and fully indulgent, authentic taste adventure to lovers of these beverages through a variety of flavors that expand beyond the known and following the trend wave.”

Food Ingredients News

Flavor trends in 2019? Botanicals, ethnic, exotic and smokeless “smoke,” nuances hotly tipped for the new year, say suppliers

10 Dec 2018 --- Naturalness in flavors is expected to lead the way in 2019, although classic flavors are still anticipated to be in high demand across all categories. New combinations including botanical, ethnic and exotic flavors currently have the potential to meet consumers’ increasing demand for exciting new creations. These trends are tipped to become increasingly popular for the coming year. FoodIngredientsFirst spoke with key suppliers in the flavors space, who offered their insights into what we can expect to see trending in 2019.

Food Ingredients News

UK food and drink exports reach £16.4bn as Brexit looms, says FDF report

07 Dec 2018 --- UK food and drink exports have increased by 1.8 percent to £16.4bn (US$21 billion) from January to September, compared to the same period in 2017, with exports of branded goods edging up. The food and drink trade deficit has narrowed by 1.3 percent as a result, now standing at -£18.0 billion (-US$23 billion), according to the latest analysis from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF). The news of the export success comes just ahead of the all-important parliamentary vote on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, which is scheduled to take place next Tuesday (December 11). The Withdrawal Agreement – which has the full backing of Europe – will go before UK MPs next week, make or break time for the Brexit deal that would avoid a no-deal scenario.

Food Ingredients News

In Living Coral? Pantone tips pink-tinted hue for 2019 as Instagrammable food colors trend

07 Dec 2018 --- Pantone has named “Living Coral,” a pink-tinted hue as its color of the year for 2019, inspiring colors suppliers and packaging manufacturers to think about what the food & beverage implications may be. The shade, part orange, part pink, is a warm and welcoming one that adds life and playfulness, according to Jeffrey Beers, founder and CEO of his eponymous design firm. This year’s color was Ultra Violet, a deep purple hue. The news of the choice of coral has been met with interest from food colors suppliers, who shared their views with FoodIngredientsFirst.

More Articles