It’s been six weeks since the official end of Stop Hate for Profit’s Facebook ad boycott, and major brands are still withholding their ad money from the social network’s properties.
Major advertisers like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Nike, as well as several Unilever and Diageo brands, have not yet resumed ad spend with Facebook or Facebook-owned Instagram, according to a new study from BrandTotal, which analyzed paid social media data across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn ads from the start of the boycott on July 1 through September 3.
BrandTotal also found that Ford, Lowe’s, Nintendo and Microsoft have also not resumed their spending on Facebook or Instagram. Ad Age verified through Facebook’s Ad Library that these brands are not currently running ads. Brands that boycotted during July and August but have resumed their spending on Facebook and Instagram starting in September include CVS, Chipotle and Sony.
The boycott was initially launched in July by civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP, Color of Change and Sleeping Giants, to bring about change in how Facebook was handling hate speech and disinformation on the platform. About 1,100 brands joined the boycott to raise a rally cry and join in the movement, although media buyers told Ad Age that many brands felt like they didn’t have much of a choice, and wanted to quietly phase back into spending again with the platform, on which their brands depended greatly to reach highly targeted audiences.
While BrandTotal found that the majority of these brands, including major advertisers like Target, Budweiser and Best Buy, resumed their spending once July was over, several standouts did carry over into August, and some are still continuing to boycott into September. Those that are continuing to boycott, however, might be more concerned with the practically of their end-of-year budget plans, rather than advocacy.
“In general, many brands put together a revised post-COVID-19 media and spending plan for the rest of the year that included a pause in Facebook advertising and they aren’t interested in revisiting the budget at this point, even if the overt reason for the Facebook pause has abated,” says Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy officer at Publicis North America. Goldberg also says that many brands are still being more conservative with their marketing spend anyway due to COVID-19 disrupting supply chains and fluctuating consumer behavior.
Another media buyer, who requested anonymity, believes any brands still boycotting against Facebook will begin spending again in the new year. “These brands aren’t holding back from spending with Facebook because of any support for Stop Hate for Profit,” he says. “They made a decision and they’re simply sticking with their budgets through the end of the year when most people will have forgotten about the boycott and moved on.”
YouTube has been a popular option for many brands during and since the official boycott in July, BrandTotal found. McDonald’s and Unilever brands ran YouTube ads during the boycott; Nike, Nintendo, Coca-Cola ran ads on both YouTube and Twitter; and Microsoft ran ads on YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.