Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Unilever marketing chief calls for social media talks, not boycotts



Unilever has joined the group of brands choosing not to advertise on Facebook for a period of time, but its marketing vice president Aline Santos said the decision was not directly related to the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign.

Speaking about the group’s marketing plans, Santos told The Drum that Unilever will be pausing Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ad spend in the US until the end of the year.

But the owner of personal care brands including Dove, Lynx, and Pond’s will continue to use social media platforms to market its products internationally.

The move comes amid a wider debate about Facebook’s role in the Black Lives Matter protests, with some claiming that the social media network allowed incitement to violence by white nationalists. Over 160 brands have joined a month-long boycott of Facebook, including Adidas, Ford, Honda, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola.

Aline Santos was keen to outline that Unilever’s decision to review its social media ad spend in the US and the timing of the Facebook boycott was merely coincidental. “We are not part of the Facebook boycott, the relationship that we have with all the social media is very long term,” she told The Drum, adding that the decision had more to do with the upcoming presidential election.

“We don't want our brands to be part of the very toxic conversation that is going on in the newsfeed off social media. It is not anything particular to one company or another, it’s just we don’t want our brands in a toxic environment,” she said.

Rather than endorsing a boycott, she called for brands to work together with Facebook to help it improve its policies and fight hate speech on its platform.

“We have been really engaging with the social media players, not in an activist way, or fighting against them and then shouting at them. We have been very much at the center of the discussion within those companies,” she concluded.

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