Another advertising scandal

Apologies for the fact I missed this at the time it hit the regular news cycle but when I read  about it yesterday I felt I still had to write something. Regular readers will know my blogs are occasionally partly a form of self-medication. So here goes.

Unilever spends £6 billion per year advertising its vast range of everyday foods and other household products. The company has threatened to remove ads from Facebook and YouTube if they failed to eliminate different kinds of content they didn’t like. Seems they also had plans to  draw up a “whitelist of trusted  publishers”.  With £6 billion at stake this would be a powerful incentive for anyone who depends on advertising revenue to pay attention. That’s pretty much everyone who provides ostensibly “free” online services.

Unilever owns a brand called the “Dollar Shave Club”.  Last November it emerged they had been spending some of Unilever’s marketing bounty on Pornhub. An unapologetic Creative Director of the Dollar Shave Club said he chose to advertise on Pornhub because  it “has guys’ backs” adding “It’s not expensive, but interestingly, the exposure you can get and the impressions are huge.

I gather no irony or double entendres were intended. Part of the advertising riff was that if you use “Dollar Shave Club” products you wouldn’t need to visit the Pornhub site so often. OK. Let’s leave it there. You can almost hear the hairy knuckles scraping along the ground.

The good news is that after carefully pointing out the “Dollar Shave Club” had operational independence within Unilever a company spokesperson nevertheless went on to say “This type of content is deeply troubling and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again, or on any other porn sites.”

Result. Bravo Unilever

Kraft Heinz  do not appear to be in the mood to be similarly contrite. They own, among others, Weight Watchers, HP Sauce and Capri Sun and on a single day they took over the whole of the Pornhub home page to promote a #FoodPorn campaign  to promote a frozen product of theirs  called “Devour”. A spokesman said: “The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon.”

So there you are. It is but a short step from frozen cheesecake and frozen pizza to bondage gang bangs. Who knew?

Porn harms children. Mindgeek, the owners of Pornhub, know this. They have the technology to keep children off their sites but in Britain and many other countries they refuse to use it until they and their competitors are legally obliged so to do.

No company that values its reputation as a family friendly enterprise should give any of its advertising revenue to Pornhub. Embarrassments such as befell Unilever can only be avoided if they issue unambiguous instructions to everyone in their marketing departments and associated advertising agencies that Pornhub and the like are a no-no.

 

 

 

 

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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