Unilever's warning to tech giants: Drain the swamp or lose advertising

Unilever CMO Keith Weed has become the WFA's inaugural Global Marketer of the Year

Unilever CMO Keith Weed has become the WFA's inaugural Global Marketer of the Year

Unilever, one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, is threatening to pull advertising from Google, YouTube and Facebook if the tech giants don't rid their platforms of extremism, hate speech and fake news.

Chief marketing officer (CMO) Keith Weed is expected to share the mesage against extremist content online at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting in California today.

Unilever says it will not invest in platforms that "create division" in society and "promote anger or hate", arguing that "social media should build social responsibility".

Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, threatened Monday to snub digital platforms that fail to protect children or help "create division" in society.

Last year, Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble (P&G) - whose brands include Pampers, Gillette and Olay - said that a proliferation of fake ad clicks had undermined digital advertising.

Unilever's warning comes as Facebook, which recently announced a change to what appears in users' news feeds, is thought to be losing younger users, eMarketer estimates. "As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we can not have an environment where our consumers don't trust what they see online". And it comes after US lawmakers scolded Facebook for allowing the spread of misinformation, including an initiative from Russian operatives to influence the USA presidential election.

Youtube, which is owned by Google, has had public audiences review each second of the video that is part of its Google Preferred program, which is popular for marketers to pay for ads.

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Unilever spent about €7.7 billion ($9.4 billion) on marketing previous year.

Could this be the beginning of the end for big tech's foot-dragging response to the manipulation of their social-media platforms by bad actors, foreign and domestic? Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL) added 0.8% to 1,054.56.

A Facebook spokesperson concurred, saying: "We fully support Unilever's commitments and are working closely with them".

The other companies have not responded to Observer requests for comment.

"If you still have to sell products, where you advertise your products matters a lot, and unfortunately, we have a world where Facebook and Google own all the data and all of our attention", he said.

Unilever itself was heavily criticized previous year for a Dove advert on Facebook that many saw as racist.

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