Vice calls on brands to rethink keyword blocklists associated with racism
Vice is calling on marketers and agencies to once again reassess keyword blocklists as new words have been added to advertisers’ do-not-buy lists amid the protests against racial injustice.
During its NewFront presentation on Wednesday, the company said brand marketers need to call upon their agencies to review and question the words that make up their blocklists. Over the past few weeks, the company notes that those words now include “George Floyd,” “protest,” and “Minneapolis.” And one agency that represents a large entertainment company sent a blocklist that even included "Black Lives Matter" and "Black people" the same week the corporation put out a statement of support for Black Lives Matter, said Marsha Cooke, senior VP, content and community strategy, Vice.
Vice said agencies need to rethink “antiquated practices of keyword blocklists, and instead look to more contextual-based solutions that better support journalism, while servicing our partners' needs for brand safety.”
Last year, Vice took a stance on unblocking words like “gay,” “fat,” “Muslim” and “transgender,” arguing that when marketers don’t want their ads juxtaposed with content containing those words and others it restricts the publisher’s ability to monetize content that promotes diversity and inclusion.
"We got your applause, but we didn’t see change," Cooke said. "The list just got longer."
According to internal analysis, Vice found that content related to George Floyd and the protests monetized at a rate of 57 percent lower than other news content.
Aside from blocklists, Vice also introduced a company-wide commitment to expand coverage and reporting on systemic racism across all of its brands.
“The 8:46 Project,” named for the time it took for George Floyd to die in the hold of a police officer, will not only report on stories and actions in the street today, but will look at the future to deepen the country’s understanding of this American uprising and racial injustice in the U.S. Over the next 12 months, all of Vice’s brands will commit to publishing even more of these stories.
Levi's has already signed on to be a part of "The 8:46 Project."
The font used for “The 8:46 Project” logo, Bayard, was created by Tre Seals and his company Vocal Type Co., which focuses on bringing diversity to the design industry by creating typefaces that highlight a piece of history from a specific under-represented race, ethnicity or gender.
Bayard was inspired by the 1963 March on Washington and is named after Bayard Rustin, a close advisor to Martin Luther King Jr. and a seminal figure in the Civil Rights Movement.
Vice also launched the 2030 Project, a paid, 12-month program, inviting a group of young people with diverse backgrounds and experiences into the organization to look 10 years into the future and envision what life might be like for their own generation, come 2030.
This group of 12 will collaborate with researchers, developers and creators to produce content across Vice’s TV, digital and editorial platforms; helping the company, its audience, and partners think through the future of everything—from work, to dating, to the environment. Every two months, the group will conduct deep dives into passion points, including food, fashion, technology, politics, health and dating.
Brands will have the opportunity to engage with, collaborate with, and learn from this group throughout the duration of the program, which will kick off in the fall.
Vice’s other NewFronts announcements includes a new partnership with iHeartMedia for the weekly investigative series “Vice News Reports” and the global expansion of Vice World News.