Unilever threatens to pull ads from 'divisive platforms'

Unilever warns online media: we can no longer advertize like this

Weed has recently explained his views in meetings with all of Unilever's digital partners, including Facebook, Google, Twitter, Snap and Amazon.

While warning the social media giants about Unilever's concerns, Weed did not specifically say it would be pulling its ad dollars from Facebook or Google, Brian Wieser, senior advertising analyst with Pivotal Research Group, said in a note to investors Monday. Weed also described the online networks as toxic with the growing prevalence of fake news and offensive content.

In terms of content, Unilever plans to tackle gender stereotypes in advertising and improve its own brand messaging after missing the mark on a Dove campaign previous year that led to a social media backlash.

In retaliation, Facebook's head of news feed Adam Mosseri and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown both said that the platform was taking steps to improve the content on the social media site.

According to research firm Pivotal, Facebook and Google accounted for 73% of all digital advertising in the USA in 2017.

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Digital Media Briefing" subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider.

The company behind brands such as Ben & Jerry's, Persil, Lynx, PG Tips and Marmite has lashed out at YouTube owner Google. "We can't do anything to damage that trust - including the choice of channels and platforms we use".

London-headquartered Unilever has considerable clout as the fourth-largest global advertiser - behind Procter & Gamble, Samsung and Nestlé - and spent $8.6 billion in 2017, according to.

"We stayed with YouTube [and said], what we're going to do, is we're going to work with you - we're not going to walk away and point fingers and tell you to sort it out and we'll come back when it's ready", he said.

Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. Due to their dominance over the advertising market, the "duopoly" has an even greater responsibility to "serve and protect" brands advertising with them, as well as the consumers viewing those adverts.

In response to Weed's message, Google said that it takes its partners and users' trust and safety seriously. But we made a decision to stay - because one, we have a very rigorous media strategy and did not have any brand safety issues - but also because we believed that working closely with them would have much more of an impact than just walking away and telling them to sort things out.

Almost three-fourths (72%) of 300 marketers in a September 2017 CMO Council survey said they had concerns about ad placements, and 43% said they had experienced some type of problem in how their advertising was viewed.

Unilever, for example, has been talking with YouTube about implementing more human screening of videos that include children to make sure that they are not being exploited.

For now, it's clear to see that Unilever and the duopoly will be spending this year's Valentine's evening together - and probably quite a few more evenings after that.

"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", Mr. Weed will say.

"If anything, those comments suggested that Unilever will stay the course so long as Facebook, Google and others continue to make efforts to improve their platforms", he said.

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