International alcohol producers Diageo, Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory and Coca Cola are among hundreds of companies across the world that have suspended their social media advertising.
The boycott is part of an initiative called Stop Hate for Profit that began in America, asking companies to pause their advertising spending on Facebook for the month of July, and push the social media giant to “address the rampant racism, disinformation and hate on its platform.”
The campaign was started in June by a coalition of civil rights groups and non profit organisations in the wake of exploding coverage for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, spurring action across the world after the death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police in America.
Diageo announced its support for the campaign in late June with a statement on Twitter. It read: “Diageo strives to promote inclusion and diversity, including through our marketing campaigns. From July 1 we will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms. We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content.”
Meanwhile, the executive leadership team of Brown-Forman’s home in America shared a letter entitled ‘Be Better, Do Better’ that outlined their actions in response to the campaign. These actions included an indefinite pause on social media advertising spending, and also an array of initial commitments to strengthen their voice in line with company values and accountability.
Part of the letter said: “We are hopeful that these times will be a catalyst for conversations, and specifically those that explore how we live our value of respect, how we identify and eliminate bias in ourselves, and how we continue to create an environment and relationships where we can bring our best selves to work. We challenged ourselves to be better and to do better, as individuals, leaders, and teams.”
A statement on their website reinforced this in relation to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, and said: “Respect is at the core of who we are and how we operate. Brown-Forman is taking time to pause and reflect upon how we, along with our media partners, can be better and do better. During this time, we reiterate our belief that more can and should be done to address inequality, hate, and racism.”
Beam Suntory have also come out in support of the BLM movement, and according to Spirits Business, have paused their advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the USA.
In a statement, the company said: “Together, guided by our values, we are determining how we can best help advance social justice for Black communities as we continue to do business the right way, the Beam Suntory way. As a tangible next step, we’re committed to financially supporting the important work of leading social justice organisations.”
Coca Cola, through a statement by their Chairman and CEO James Quincey, announced their support of the campaign too.
Quincey said: “There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”
So far, the Stop Hate for Profit campaign organisers have said Facebook has responded with: “a lot of messaging along with some minor changes,” but they believe their ten asks of the platform are all quite achievable.
Although the focus period of the campaign has already begun, companies and individuals wishing to still get involved can do so at the Stop Hate for Profit website here.