As we near the end of July, I wanted to take the time to provide a brief update on the Facebook boycott campaign, which continues through next Friday. There is a ton to unpack, including what comes next.
The #StopHateforProfit boycott has gained some momentum throughout the month, growing in the number of companies that formally signed on to support the boycott from 243 to 437. You can review the full list on the Stop Hate for Profit website.
Some of the notable brands formally supporting the boycott include Adidas, Ben & Jerry’s, Best Buy, Boeing, Chobani, Colgate-Palmolive, Eddie Bauer, Ford, Honda, Levi’s, lululemon, Madewell, Mozilla, Patagonia, Pfizer, Puma, Reebok, REI, The North Face, Unilever, Vans, Verizon, Walgreens, White Castle, and Williams-Sonoma.
Others have stopped spending, but haven’t formally signed the boycott, including Starbucks, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola.
Although we are nearing the end of the month, new brands continue to take notice of the boycott. Over the weekend, Disney announced pulling back its Facebook advertising budget amid concerns about the enforcement of Facebook’s content policies. It doesn’t appear that Disney has formally signed onto the boycott or completely stopped spending on the platform, yet this is a sign that the momentum is still growing.
The pressure on Facebook isn’t enough
While it seems the movement has made significant progress, efforts by the Stop Hate for Profit organizers to pin down Facebook to address hate speech and content policies on the platform have not been successful. Earlier this month, organizers met with Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg but were frustrated with the lack of cooperation from Facebook.
The organizers have 10 demands, some of which include Facebook hiring a top executive with a civil rights background, submitting to regular independent audits, and updating its community standards. Zuckerberg and Sandberg agreed to hire a civil rights position but did not come to clear agreement on the other request.
It seemed Facebook started to take notice of the boycott when its stock was beginning to take a hit in June, but the stock price has fully rebounded and hit a year-to-date high on July 10. While the platform continues to get some outward pressure from advertisers, it seems the pressure isn’t significant enough to keep investors away.
Investors may be taking note of the brands that are still actively advertising on the platform, as opposed to the brands that aren’t. Many of Facebook’s biggest spenders are continuing to invest in ads, including Walmart, American Express, and The Home Depot.
Of its 25 largest spenders last year, only three had confirmed plans to pull back Facebook advertising budgets at the beginning of the month (Microsoft, Starbucks, and Pfizer). It’s easy to see so many household names on the list of supporters and feel as though the boycott is making a dramatic difference, but the names that aren’t on the list are having a significant impact on the lack of progress.
Another reason for the lack of momentum may be the low awareness of the boycott among consumers. In a Google Consumer Survey conducted by Uberall VP, Marketing Insights Greg Sterling, platform users are mostly (39% of participants) unaware the boycott is happening. An additional 42% were either not sure how they felt about it (29%) or disapproved of the boycott (13%), leaving only 19% of consumers who were aware and approved of the boycott.
Thus, brands that choose to remain active on Facebook advertising have little accountability or pressure to pull back investments from their customers.
What happens next is unclear
The question now becomes whether or not the boycott lasts beyond July. Several advertisers have already announced plans to pull out of the platform for a longer period, but many brands will likely resume advertising starting in August.
However, we’re expecting many brands may have used this time to experiment with investments and channels that may bring new partnerships or successes to life. These new tactics could reduce some brands’ overall investments in Facebook in the long-term when they resume advertising on the platform.
For additional reading, feel free to check out these links:
- The New York Times, “Facebook Fails to Appease Organizers of Ad Boycott”
- The Verge, “Disney has reportedly paused its spending on Facebook ads”
- CNN, “Hundreds of brands are pulling ads from Facebook. Its largest advertisers aren’t among them.”
Continuing to help businesses grow
DEG’s Media + Search, and Social Media teams continue to collaborate with brands to stay up to date on the latest media trends and movements focused on equity and the amplification of Black voices. We’ve helped clients reallocate funds that may have been spent on Facebook and Instagram this month to activate and test new profit-generating tactics for future growth initiatives.
Testing new channels and tactics is especially crucial as we all move toward an abnormal 2020 holiday shopping season later this year, when consumers will likely use digital channels in a far greater capacity than previous years.