Boycotts and Beyond

Headlines about the Facebook boycott have landed our industry on the front page lately. But what’s does this moment actually mean to marketing? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • This past Friday, Facebook announced changes to their policies around hate speech.
  • The announcement came in response to a growing boycott among advertisers.
  • The #StopHateForProfit movement originated with a coalition of civil rights group and eventually grew to include over 100 brands.
  • Pressure peaked with a sweeping announcement from heavy hitter Unilever, which also came on Friday.
  • Unilever has taken a harder line than many brands. They’ll halt ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the remainder of 2020.
  • This issue isn’t new. Many (including our own John Ounpuu) have been encouraging brands to think deeply about their support for these platforms for many years. And the fact that many of the most dangerous features were created to meet advertiser demand. Yet the response has been minimal.
  • So what’s changed? Recent events have forced all of us to face some dark truths about our world. And ourselves. Perhaps this shock has woken our industry up to the deep responsibility we hold. And helped us realize that small gestures just won’t cut it.
  • Or maybe we’ve woken up to our power after years of feeling diminished by the rise of Facebook and Google.
  • Whatever the reason, let’s not congratulate ourselves too quickly. Facebook’s concessions are minimal. This fight is far from over.
  • Ultimately, this issue is bigger than Facebook and bigger than boycotts. It’s about how we exercise the power we have. As Jerry Daykin puts it: “Our media investments shape the world around us.”
  • If this moment has you thinking about what to do with the power you have, start by reading this piece from the Anti-Defamation League to get a real sense of the problem.
  • Then move on to the six manifestos of the UK-based Conscious Ad Network, which extend beyond issues with social platforms.
  • Once that’s done, it’s probably time to start thinking about some changes that are bigger and deeper than buying media.
Issue #96
Jun 28, 2020

Further Reading