The Association of National Advertisers has fallen victim to the same opaque digital media supply chain that it often complains about. The trade group, which represents the nation's largest advertisers, on Thursday pulled a banner ad from the polarizing Breitbart.com site after fielding at least one complaint on social media.
The ad touted a new report on how to simplify agency compensation. It was spotted by one person who reached out to the ANA on Twitter, prompting the following exchange:
Jennifer, thank you for pointing this out. This was 100% unintentional. We've reached out to our agency to understand how this happened.— ANAmarketers (@ANAmarketers) October 12, 2017
An ANA spokesman told Ad Age that it was "an unintentional result of a programmatic buy and it has been removed." The agency on the campaign is Path Interactive, according to the spokesman. Path did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Media-buying practices have figured prominently among the problems in digital media that the ANA has targeted this year.
"We as leaders should not accept this byzantine, non-transparent, super complex digital media supply chain," ANA CEO Bob Liodice said at the group's annual "Masters of Marketing" event earlier this month. "No one can understand it. Yet we keep feeding the beast by pouring incredible sums of money into this unproductive, unmanageable abyss."
Thursday's incident proves that even the ANA is not immune.
The ad came as the ANA earlier this month began the first branding campaign in its 107-year history in an attempt to refresh its image, using the tagline, "Driving Growth for You, Your Brand, and Our Industry. It's in Our DNA." The ANA spokesman said the banner ad on Breitbart was not part of that push. "This is a totally separate campaign promoting some new research for the ANA's Marketing Knowledge Center," he said in an email.
Breitbart is led by former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon. The site, which activist critics have derided as espousing racist and anti-Semitic views, has been blacklisted by hundreds of advertisers this year, including many ANA members. The protest has been led by Sleeping Giants, an advocacy group that purports to "stop racist and sexist media by stopping its ad dollars." The group in August tweeted that 2,600 advertisers had pulled ads from the site. Brands that have pulled ads include Kellogg Co. BMW, Visa, T-Mobile, Nordstrom and others, according to media reports.
Earlier today, Sleeping Giants in a tweet thanked ANA for pulling its ad, prompting this reply.
We sincerely regret it ever happened in the first place. Thank you to those who brought it to our attention so we could rectify quickly.— ANAmarketers (@ANAmarketers) October 12, 2017
Attempts to reach Breitbart for comment were not immediately successful.