Unilever is ceasing all U.S. ad spending from social-media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter through the end of the year — and possibly beyond — citing the “polarized atmosphere” in the country.
The consumer goods giant’s announcement Friday comes amid the widening #StopHateForProfit boycott targeted at Facebook, organized by groups that want to pressure Facebook into adopting more aggressive steps to combat hate and harassment on its platforms.
Unilever brands include Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Rexona, Hellmann’s, Omo and Ben and Jerry’s. Per digital-advertising research firm Pathmatics, Unilever’s U.S. ad spending with Facebook in 2019 was $42.3 million.
“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” Luis Di Como, Unilever EVP of global media, said in a statement. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.”
Unilever-owned Ben & Jerry’s had already committed to pulling ad spending from Facebook for the month of July under the “Stop Hate for Profit” initiative, along with marketers including Magnolia Pictures, REI, Patagonia, North Face, and Eddie Bauer.
On Thursday, Verizon said it was “pausing” advertising on Facebook until the social-media giant can provide a brand-safety solution. That came after one of the telco’s ads appeared on Facebook adjacent to a video from conspiracy group QAnon.
U.K.-based Unilever, in announcing the decision to suspend social-media spending, said that “there is much more [work by the platforms] to be done, especially in the areas of divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”
The company added, “The complexities of the current cultural landscape have placed a renewed responsibility on brands to learn, respond and act to drive a trusted and safe digital ecosystem.”
Shares of both social-media companies dropped on the Unilever announcement, with Facebook and Twitter stock each down about 7% in early-afternoon trading.