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Unilever will pull ads from Google, Facebook unless they stop 'creating division'

Tyrone Stewart

UnileverUnilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, is threatening to reduce ad spend on major tech platforms – such as Google and Facebook – if they continue to “create division” with their failure to deal with the rise of fake news, hate speech, and abuse.

Speaking at the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) annual leadership meeting in Palm Desert, California today, Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed is expected to say that “Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate.”

He will add to these prepared remarks saying that Unilever will only invest in platforms that create “a positive impact in society,” while referring to the digital supply chain – which delivers more than a quarter of the FMCG giant’s advertising – as “little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency”.

Weed’s comments come following the large amount of criticism levelled at major tech platforms – over the last year or so – for their inability to prevent Russian interference, their failure to protect users suffering from mental health issues, and for ads appearing next to often violent or controversial content.

The speech will also come around a year after fellow FMCG giant Procter & Gamble’s (P&G) global marketing and brand building officer, Marc Pritchard, stood up at the same event and threatened to cut ad spend on major digital platforms. Although, the company hasn’t entirely followed through with that threat, only keeping its ads off of YouTube.