Thursday, August 02, 2007

Fascists on Facebook and the fallout - brands drop their Facebook campaigns

The NMA [sub] has a story today that big brands have their banner ads appearing alongside the British National Party (BNP) group on Facebook.

The BNP is a far right extremist party. Vodafone and the bank First Direct have already had all their ads removed.

As you can imagine neither Vodafone nor First Direct are very happy. The NMA has this quote from First Direct:
When you book into a network you can specify categories you don't want to appear alongside, including racism, but you can't give specific pages [...] we will be contacting our media agency about this particular page and getting it to remove the ads.

Rob Horler, MD of the advertising superpower Isobar struck an interesting and rather savvy tone on the whole issue. He said;
You either don't advertise on Facebook or you do and are prepared to accept that the ads could appear on inappropriate content [...] There is no guarantee on this and anyone spending more than five minutes on the site knows this. Brands need to remain mindful.

I think Horler is right. If you are going to venture out into social media then this sort of thing is going to happen... but it's a measured risk. You should (your agency should) be in the position to detect and react quickly though. In this case the appropriate reaction may well be to "whatever it takes to ensure my brand does not appear beside the BNP!"