Coke ups ante, pauses all social spend for at least 30 days, including on YouTube
Coca-Cola Co. will pause spending on all social media platforms, including Google-owned YouTube, for at least 30 days. The decision—which the beverage giant says is aimed at fighting racism—takes a broader approach than most brands, which have mostly directed their ad freezes at Facebook and Instagram.
“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,” CEO and Chairman James Quincey said in a statement. “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.”
A Coke spokeswoman confirmed the pause includes YouTube, which has so far not been dragged into calls for boycotts. It also includes Twitter and Snapchat, in addition to Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, she said. Unilever has also included Twitter in its ad pause—which it says will last through the end of the year.
Coke competitor PepsiCo has not responded to multiple requests for comment from Ad Age about whether it would participate in the Facebook boycott.
Coke’s announcement comes hours after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a message on Friday outlining plans to tackle disinformation and label harmful content. His announcement, which came as the social media giant faced increasing pressure from brands pulling ads, was nearly immediately rejected by the NAACP, a key organizer of the “Stop the Hate for Profit” movement that has rallied support from a growing list of advertisers that are pulling Facebook ads during July, including Honda and Verizon.
“[Zuckerberg] stated that Facebook would apply their hate policy to ads as if it was some new revelation, while not addressing hate more broadly in groups and posts,” Derrick Johnson, NAACP president, said in the statement.
Coke’s move is not directly aimed at Facebook, a spokeswoman confirmed. And with the company dragging in all major social media companies, it could in a sense relieve some pressure from Facebook, which has been on the hot seat mostly by itself. It at least lends some credence to the warning that Carolyn Everson, Facebook's VP of global business group, has made about how the boycott could spread.
In an email to advertisers obtained by Ad Age earlier this week, Everson said: “Many of you have expressed concern that a boycott on Facebook is unlikely to stop there—boycotts tend to spread to other platforms/media and boycotting in general is not the way for us to make progress together. I also really hope by now you know that we do not make policy changes tied to revenue pressure. We set our policies based on principles rather than business interests.”