Unilever threatens to reduce digital ad spend



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Unilever is threatening to pull its ads from any platform, including Facebook and Google, that allows “toxic” content, according to Reuters. Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing officer, said the company — which owns numerous well-known consumer-packaged goods (CPG) brands including Ben & Jerry’s, Dove, and Lipton — will not invest in platforms that create division in society, do not protect children, or promote fake news.

Unilever spent over $9 billion in advertising in 2017, second only to Proctor & Gamble, which spent over $10 billion. The company is taking a firmer stance on brand safety and is willing to work with social giants to come up with a solution.

Unilever is focused on “responsible content” and “responsible infrastructure.” In terms of content, Unilever plans to tackle gender stereotypes in advertising and improve its own brand messaging after missing the mark on a Dove campaign last year that led to a social media backlash. In addition, the company has committed to partnering with organizations that strive to improve the transparency of the digital media supply chain.

Moves by Facebook and Google to address advertisers’ concerns has been too slow.While both companies have launched programs to vet the types of content that populate their platforms, the progress thus far is still not enough to appease brand-safety-minded advertisers with large budgets. This potentially opens the door for TV broadcasters to lure ad dollars away from digital platforms, as TV is often seen as a transparent, brand-safe environment, albeit more expensive than digital advertising.

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