Bayer Freezes Facebook Advertising In July

Add Bayer to the list of brands pausing paid media on Facebook for the month of July.

The consumer health and pharma giant confirmed the pause with AdExchanger, but declined to share details on whether the move is directly connected to the broader Facebook boycott spearheaded by civil rights groups such as Color of Change, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League.

“We are humbly doing what we feel is right and not looking for coverage of it,” a spokesperson for Bayer told AdExchanger. “We have serious concerns that Facebook, through its policies, is not promoting a culture of inclusion, equality and respect for all.”

Other pharmaceutical brands have also halted their Facebook ad campaigns in July, including Pfizer, Novartis and AbbVie.

Just under 400 companies are listed on the Stop Hate for Profit website, up from nearly 250 brands that had committed to the Facebook advertising boycott at the start of the month.

Their goal is to force Facebook to tackle divisiveness and hate speech on its platform. As the group says on its site, “Let’s send Facebook a powerful message: Your profits will never be worth promoting hate, bigotry, racism, antisemitism and violence.”

But not all of the marketers taking a break from Facebook are doing so as part of the official boycott.

For example, Starbucks, Cola-Cola and Unilever are pausing their advertising on all social platforms, not just Facebook (sorry, Twitter), and for the rest of 2020, not just in July. “It is not anything particular to one company or another,” Unilever’s EVP of global marketing told The Drum, “it’s just we don’t want our brands in a toxic environment.”

In Bayer’s case, it’s unclear whether the pause was something it was planning to do regardless of the more formal boycott, whether the stoppage applies globally or if the freeze will extend into August and beyond.

But it’s likely that the boycott will continue into the summer. A meeting this week between the boycott’s organizers and Facebook’s top brass – Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg and chief product officer Chris Cox – about what Facebook is doing to combat hate speech was … an unmitigated failure.

“Instead of committing to a timeline to root out hate and disinformation on Facebook, the company’s leaders delivered the same old talking points to try to placate us without meeting our demands,” said Jessica Gonzalez, co-CEO of Free Press, one of the groups behind the Stop Hate for Profit campaign in a statement. “This isn’t over. We will continue to expand the boycott until Facebook takes our demands seriously.”

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