Marketers at Vistaprint, Dove and Nissan will have been very busy recently. All three have fallen victim to advertising appearing next to compromising content on Facebook. The companies found their collateral next to materials supporting and making light of domestic abuse which has led to a customer backlash and severe criticism in the media.
Both companies were quick to respond to the issue, with Vistaprint posting an explanation on their Facebook page, and Nissan on their Twitter feed. While Dove hasn’t replied on either platform, it’s written to campaigners to apologise. However, the fundamental problem with the Facebook platform is that it targets individuals and not the content of each of the pages where the adverts land. Because of what might be totally innocent searches of Facebook or page ‘Likes’, adverts can then appear on pages which have the worst kind of content on them. And according to Facebook’s own rules, it’s up to users to self-regulate the site. There are no protective measures in place for brands.
All of this comes at a time when the pressure group the Everyday Sexism Project has been challenging brands to better manage where their advertising appears. The group wants companies to introduce stricter practices to help prevent against them appearing to support such material.