Much of the advertising and marketing press covered Pernod Ricard's #EngageResponsibly initiative last week.
Though I support all efforts to reduce hate speech, I wonder if the solution offered adequately and fairly addresses the problem.
The press release described how a brand can calculate its "hate footprint," equating the initiative with corporate efforts to reduce carbon footprint—a measure of the impact a company’s activities has on the amount of carbon dioxide they produce through the burning of fossil fuels. Reducing the carbon footprint is a challenge involving restructuring processes run by companies and their supply chain partners, which takes years and costs a lot of money.
Reducing a company’s “hate footprint” can be done by changing the media outlet on a marketer’s insertion order.
If you're bothered by an outlet’s toxicity, advertise elsewhere; there are lots of media outlets happy to take your ad budget. Just find a publisher, a website, an app, a radio or out-of-home network that meets your standards.
A second issue I have with the initiative: It provides marketers with an excuse to do something they think is bad, knowing that they can atone for their sins by doing something good.