Ford, Clorox, Adidas halt Facebook spending as boycott grows
Ford, Clorox and Adidas are the latest major marketers to pause social media spending as the Facebook boycott intensifies.
Clorox—whose products include its namesake brand plus Burt’s Bees, Brita, Pine-Sol, Glad, Liquid-Plumr, Fresh Step, Scoop Away, Kingsford and Hidden Valley Ranch—joined the Facebook boycott through December, citing a need to “take action against hate speech, which we believe will increase through the balance of the year,” according to a statement. The company added that said hate speech on Facebook platforms “creates an increasingly unhealthy environment for people and our purpose-driven brands.”
Clorox’s boycott is global, covering Facebook's audience network and Messenger, in addition to Facebook and Instagram, and its six-month timeframe goes farther than the July pause most brands have pledged.
Clorox has spent $6.5 million on Facebook, year to date, and $2.3 million in the past 30 days ended June 27, according to Pathmatics.
Ford’s social media pause covers the U.S. for the next 30 days, but it also includes YouTube and Twitter, in addition to Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram, a spokesman confirmed. The automaker will continue to use local platforms in China and "we are evaluating participation in Europe and South America."
“We are pausing all national social media advertising for the next 30 days to re-evaluate our presence on these platforms,” the automaker said in a statement. “The existence of content that includes hate speech, violence and racial injustice on social platforms needs to be eradicated. We are actively engaged with industry initiatives led by the Association of National Advertisers to drive more accountability, transparency and trusted measurement to clean up the digital and social media ecosystem.”
Ford has spent $2.9 million on Facebook platforms, year to date, but only $57,000 the past 30 days, according to Pathmatics. Its peak month spending on the platform in 2020 was February when it shelled out $1.2 million.
Asked where the company is diverting its money, a spokesman said: “Ford’s audience-first media strategy means we are not dependent on a single channel to deliver our plans. We can redirect investment to other video, display and audio formats to accomplish our business objectives.”
Adidas, meanwhile, will pause advertising for its namesake and Reebok brands on Facebook and Instagram globally throughout July, a spokeswoman confirmed on Monday. “Racist, discriminatory, and hateful online content have no place in our brand or in society,” she said. The company plans to take the next 30 days to “develop criteria to hold ourselves and every one of our partners accountable for creating and maintaining safe environments,” she added.
Coca-Cola Co., Unilever and Diageo are among the companies that have extended their pauses beyond Facebook. Ford is the second major automaker to take action, following Honda, which last week pledged to stop spending on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S.
Clorox, which spends more than half of its outlay on digital, will maintain its planned level of advertising spending but shift to other media, the statement said, adding that “we will continue to monitor this situation and revisit our position as needed.” As of early today, the Clorox flagship brand already had shut down advertising across Facebook platforms after having run several ads last week.
“In the meantime, we will evolve our standards and guidelines for progress for all platforms and publishers to reflect our rising expectations for greater responsibility as these channels continue to become a more important part of people’s lives,” the company said.
Clorox expects to spend around 10 percent of its sales for the fiscal year ending June 30 on advertising. With 84 percent of its business coming in the U.S., that translates to around $550 million in U.S. all-in ad spending, including agency and production costs. Clorox spent $513.5 million on advertising in calendar 2018, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.
Adrianne Pasquarelli and George P. Slefo contributed to this report.