The Coca-Cola Company will stop running paid ads on all social media platforms amid an industrywide call for brands to reevaluate where they spend their ad dollars.
“There is no place for racism in the world, and there is no place for racism on social media,” CEO and chairman James Quincey said in a statement to Adweek. The beverage company will pause all international paid social media advertising for the next 30 days to “reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed,” Quincey said. Coca-Cola’s decision comes at the end of a long week in which companies announced they would stop advertising on Facebook because of the platform’s policies on rooting out misinformation and hateful content. A formal ad boycott started online in mid-June after anonymous industry insiders began calling for brands to realign their spending and stop advertising on Facebook. In the days that followed, groups including the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Free Press, the NAACP and Sleeping Giants signed on to another organized boycott called the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. Coca-Cola told Adweek its decision to pause its social media advertising is not part of the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign. It wasn’t immediately clear whether its decision would include organic posts on those websites or if it would still use the platforms’ insights from previous campaigns or ad tech. The company also didn’t name any social media platforms by name in its statement, but Quincey said Coca-Cola expects “greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.” The “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign began to gain momentum after The North Face pulled out of advertising on Facebook last week and companies including Patagonia, Verizon and Ben & Jerry’s followed suit. Other companies, such as Unilever, took it a step further and said they would cease advertising on Facebook and Twitter through the rest of this year. Advertising on Facebook is a big marketing opportunity to give up. Marketers have frequently touted the feeds as the most affordable way to reach a highly targeted audience online. Further, Facebook boasts the second-largest slice of digital ad spend, according to eMarketer. Unlike previous boycott campaigns, media buyers have said this moment, triggered by Facebook’s decision not to flag President Trump’s messages, as well as what they perceive as the platform’s weak efforts to rid it of racist and hateful rhetoric, are the reasons brand marketers are more willing to walk away. As pressure continued to mount, Facebook announced today it would begin labeling politicians’ posts that violate its rules (as Twitter has done). A spokesperson for Snap did not immediately respond to Adweek’s request for comment. Twitter re-sent a statement from Sarah Personette, VP, global client solutions, at the company, who said it would continue to work and communicate with its partners. Facebook re-sent a company statement that reaffirmed its commitment to working with outside groups to remove hate speech from its platform.