It is always interesting to see how brands have embraced – or not -, living in a new world where advertising is no longer a one-way communication street but a 2-way conversation where the consumer has a louder voice than the brand itself. You can clearly see which brands have truly embraced social media, – versus those that have social media as a check mark-, not by the amount of money they invest in social ads, but by how well they respond to controversial situations that are bound to happen when they no longer are 100% owners of their message.
By now you may be familiar with the #fbrape campaign. An open letter has been published asking Facebook to address the representation of rape and domestic violence on its ads. They are also calling for Facebook users to contact advertisers whose ads on Facebook appear next to content that targets women for violence, to ask these companies to withdraw from advertising on Facebook until they take action to ban gender-based hate speech on their site.
Now you may think this is overreach. How can Facebook try to control this? well…. the interesting thing is that they have moderators that frequently remove content such as pictures of women breastfeeding, women post-mastectomy and artistic representations of women’s bodies. So if a picture of a woman breastfeeding is considered offensive by Facebook standards, why aren’t images of violence against women held to the same standard?
To date, brands including Nissan, J Street, WestHost, Candypolis, Capturing Childhood and Grow Your Own Theatre have pulled their ads from the social networking giant. Other brands like Procter&Gamble and Dove have responded poorly by replying with some version of “We can’t control what facebook does”.
So if you are a brand using Facebook ads, what you have right now is not a challenge. What you have is an amazing opportunity to engage Facebook and your users in a positive conversation about this topic. The real value of any action taken (even more relevant than pulling the ads) is your opportunity to drive change in our society as it relates to women violence.