Unilever's withdrawal from Facebook isn't quite complete as five beauty brands keep advertising
Unilever’s much-publicized withdrawal from Facebook and Twitter in the U.S. isn’t quite complete, as five of its prestige beauty brands have continued to advertise on Facebook platforms since the company announced the move in late June.
Data from Pathmatics show Unilever’s spending on Instagram, for example, averaged $123,800 daily from April 15 to June 30. In July so far, Unilever’s Instagram spending has fallen by 92 percent to $10,500 daily, but has not disappeared altogether.
Five Unilever prestige brands—Living Proof, Murad, Dermalogica, Kate Somerville and Tatcha—have continued to spend on Instagram throughout July according to Pathmatics. Ad Age confirmed via the Facebook Ad Library that those brands have continued to spend on Facebook and Messenger too.
“The decision to stop advertising” on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter “applies to our U.S. business,” a Unilever spokeswoman said. “Globally managed business units that have operations in the U.S. manage their media investments independently. The prestige brands have shared their commitments towards helping eradicate racial injustice, and will continue to determine how they can best support efforts to drive action for change.”
Unilever announced June 26 that it was pulling ads from Facebook and Twitter for the rest of 2020. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” the company said in a statement. “We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.” Ads from some brands, including Dove and Dollar Shave Club, continued to run on Facebook platforms until June 29.
Despite the fanfare, Unilever’s disengagement from Facebook isn’t so different from that of L’Oréal USA, which didn’t announce it was leaving the platforms and declined to comment. Yet L’Oréal’s mass brands, including L’Oréal Paris and Garnier, haven’t been advertising on Facebook platforms this month after regularly doing so in June, while its prestige and specialty brands, such as Lancôme and Kiehl’s, have continued to run Facebook ads.
Another rival, Procter & Gamble Co., has been reviewing all media buys, including Facebook platforms, for content moderation and brand safety and has been in talks with organizers of the Stop Hate for Profit boycott, according to Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. But P&G hasn’t pulled Facebook ads, and was in fact by far the biggest advertiser on Instagram April 15-July 17 with $78.9 million in spending, more than double that of Amazon, the second biggest spender.
Direct-to-consumer brands, like Unilever’s prestige beauty brands, generally support the aims of the Facebook boycott but feel they can’t afford to leave the platforms for the health of their businesses, says Greg Ashton, co-founder of the d-to-c trade group Grow, who has followed their discussions on the group’s Slack channel.