Coca-Cola pauses advertising on all social media platforms globally

Coca-Cola pauses advertising on all social media platforms globally

Coca-Cola on Friday announced it will be pausing paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days.

The company clarified it was not joining the official boycott, but said “we are pausing” advertising.

In the week since a group of organizations have called on Facebook advertisers to pause their ad spending during the month of July, more than 90 marketers including Verizon, Patagonia, REI, Lending Club and The North Face have announced their intention to join, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants. The group of organizations includes the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman, James Quincey, said in a statement. “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.”

The beverage giant has been posting quotes about diversity and ending systemic racism on its Twitter account, including support for NASCAR’s only Black driver, Bubba Wallace.

Coca-Cola’s announcement comes after Unilever, whose brands include Dove, Ben & Jerry’s and Hellmann’s, said Friday it will halt advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. at least through Dec. 31.

Unilever joined brands like Eddie Bauer, The North Face and Patagonia as part of a campaign forcing the social media network to more stringently police hate speech and disinformation by taking a number of actions, including creating a “separate moderation pipeline” for users who say they’ve been targeted because of their race or religion, or to let advertisers see how frequently their ads appeared near to content that was later removed for misinformation or hate, and allow them refunds for those advertisements. 

Following Coca-Cola’s announcement, Levi’s and Dockers said they will be pausing all advertising on Facebook and Instagram through “at least” July: “Facebook must take actions to stop misinformation and hate speech on its platforms. It is an unacceptable affront to our values. We and Dockers are joining the #stophateforprofit campaign and pausing all ads on Facebook.” 

Hershey’s also announced late Friday it will be cutting spending on Facebook and Instagram by a third for the rest of the year and joining the #stophateforprofit boycott.

“We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform. Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change,” the company said in a statement. “Earlier this month we communicated to Facebook that we were unhappy with their stance on hate speech. We have now cut our spending on Facebook and their platforms, including Instagram, by a third for the remainder of the year. We are hopeful that Facebook will take action and make it a safe space for our consumers to communicate and gather. As a company, we stand for the values of togetherness and inclusion and we are resolute in our commitment to make a difference and be part of positive change.”

Procter & Gamble, another major Facebook spender, said earlier this week it is reviewing all media channels, networks, platforms and programs it advertises on “to ensure that the content and commentary accurately and respectfully all people, and that we are not advertising on or near content we determine to be hateful, discriminatory, denigrating or derogatory.”

“As part of that, we’re working with media companies and platforms to take appropriate systemic action where needed,” P&G chief brand officer Marc Pritchard said. The company, reached for comment, declined to specifically comment on Facebook.

During a livestream on Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he intends to discuss “new policies to connect people with authoritative information about voting, crack down on voter suppression, and fight hate speech.” He did not directly address the advertiser boycotts. 

In a recent memo to advertisers obtained by CNBC, Facebook’s VP of global marketing solutions, Carolyn Everson, said “boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together.” 

“I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure,” she said in the memo. “We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”  


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