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- The head of paid social at prominent ad-buying agency IPG Mediabrands called on marketers to reconsider advertising on Facebook, as the social media giant’s handling of President Trump’s posts in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd is questioned.
- Elijah Harris, SVP of paid social at Interpublic Group’s IPG Mediabrands, said that consumers have come to expect transparency from the brands they support, align with brands that share their values, and expect those brands to speak out on important social issues of the time.
- This is also not the first time that a platform has come under marketers’ scanners. But such calls have rarely ever translated into wider collective action against Facebook, or made a dent on its business.
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The head of paid social at a prominent ad-buying agency called on his marketer clients to reconsider advertising on Facebook, as the country faces a reckoning on issues of race police brutality and the social media giant’s handling of President Trump’s posts in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd is being questioned.
Elijah Harris, SVP of paid social at Interpublic Group’s IPG Mediabrands, wrote on LinkedIn on Thursday that it was time to “hold Facebook accountable to driving faster and more positive change” and asked advertisers to “look inwards and task themselves to do better and create necessary change.”
While companies including Twitter and Snap have taken tough stances against Trump’s online statements that contain misinformation or promote violence, Facebook has come under fire for CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s policy to not intervene, which has led to widespread criticism from employees.
This is problematic because consumers have come to expect transparency from the brands they support, align with brands that share their values, and expect those brands to speak out on important social issues of the time, he said. IPG Mediabrands’ clients include American Express, Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Sony, and Spotify.
“Pulling money out isn’t meant to be a punitive action towards Facebook,” Harris told Business Insider. “It’s more for us to assess, as marketers and arbiters of our brands’ equity, whether we should continue defaulting to a platform that stands in opposition to consumer sentiment today. It’s brand safety, not political activism.”
Harris also outlined a plan for advertisers to hold Facebook accountable, including not relying on Facebook in media plans and making a commitment to reallocate spend typically reserved for Facebook to other platforms, voicing their discontent to Facebook client solutions teams, and working with industry trade bodies like the Association of National Advertisers.
A spokeswoman for IPG declined to comment.
Harris is not alone. Benjamin Arnold, managing director of agency We Are Social also told Business Insider that he was telling clients to reconsider spending on the platform, saying that while “there are elements of good” within Facebook, clients “need to be mindful of advertising, and doing anything as it relates to the platform itself.” And Nima Gardideh, the co-founder of agency Pearmill told The New York Times that he was advising his clients to do the same.
This is not the first time that a platform has come under marketers’ scanners. In 2018, Facebook faced mounting pressure over issues ranging from its handling of user data to the spread of misinformation on its platform, prompting Mat Baxter, CEO of IPG agency Initiative, to call on marketers to take a collective stand on Facebook. YouTube has also run into recurring brand safety issues over the years like pedophiles on its platform last year.
But such calls have rarely ever translated into wider collective action against Facebook or dented its business. A handful of smaller companies, including meditation app Talkspace and payment company Fons have said they won’t advertise on Facebook. The company continues to generate 98% of its revenue through ads, and raked in $17.4 billion from advertising in its most recent quarter, despite marketers across the board pausing advertising in the face of the pandemic and hurting advertising sales in general.
IPG, meanwhile, became the first holding company to voluntarily release its Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data on Friday, revealing that 84.9% of its senior management is white, and 2.6% is Black, slightly higher than the professional services category as a whole, which stands at 2.4%.