Internal Memo: IPG Mediabrands CEO Daryl Lee Introduces Media Responsibility Principles

By Erik Oster Comment

IPG Mediabrands CEO Daryl Lee introduced the networks new media responsibility principles in an internal memo yesterday.

The 10 Media Responsibility Principles arrive amid conversations about the roles advertisers play in selecting which publishers and platforms get their ad dollars.

In the memo, Lee explains that the Black Lives Matter movement has challenged brands with “the question of racism and racially motivated violence,” to which brands have responded in a number of ways. This has included “brands changing the way they represent Black people in media and packaging,” Lee notes—an apparent reference to Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s and other brands moving away from racist mascots with ties to slavery—and “recognizing the importance of making hate speech or incitement to violence in media unacceptable.”

“As a response to these events, as well as the recent headlines around Facebook, we believe it is time for the brand safety conversation to evolve to include media responsibility,” Lee explained. “It is not enough for brand safety to be about protecting the brand—there must also be a commitment to protect the communities that a brand serves.”

Despite the reference to Facebook, which has faced boycotts from a growing list of advertisers, the platform is not specifically mentioned in IPG Mediabrands’ guidelines, which instead focuses on principles “broad enough to apply to any and all publishers, platforms and ad tech companies.”

Lee positions the guidelines as part of a broader effort to balance brand safety and brand responsibility and explains that IPG Mediabrands worked with clients on the development of the guidelines.

“We are proud to continue to lead the dialogue around brand safety and, now, media responsibility for our industry,” he concludes, “and these principles are an important step in evolving the conversation across our industry in the new context of today.”

Here’s the memo in full:

Hello everyone,

At Mediabrands, we have taken an industry leadership position on defining and establishing the importance of Brand Safety. As the world faced the threat of COVID-19, we worked to keep clients brand safe by ensuring their ads did not fund misinformation or false cures. We also worked to ensure that legitimate sources of factual information were not defunded. These actions recognized the connection between brand safety and public health safety.

With the Black Lives Matter movement, marketers are being challenged by the question of racism and racially motivated violence, and brands are responding in a variety of positive ways in the US and, increasingly, around the world. This has included brands changing the way they represent Black people in media and packaging, to recognizing the importance of making hate speech or incitement to violence in media unacceptable. As a response to these events, as well as the recent headlines around Facebook, we believe it is time for the Brand Safety conversation to evolve to include Media Responsibility. It is not enough for brand safety to be about protecting the brand—there must also be a commitment to protect the communities that a brand serves.

To that end, today we have released 10 Media Responsibility Principles (MRPs) as part of a larger effort to balance brand safety and brand responsibility in advertising. The Principles are intended to be broad enough to apply to any and all publishers, platforms and ad tech companies. They are also a call to action for companies to hold themselves to higher standards more broadly when it relates to brand safety and brand responsibility matters, not just in media.

Over the past week, we have been in close contact with our clients on the development of these Media Responsibility Principles, and are now focused on working with them to adapt the Principles in alignment with their existing company values and Corporate Social Responsibility policies. By doing so, brands will be protecting themselves, as well as be part of protecting the communities that a brand serves.

We are proud to continue to lead the dialogue around Brand Safety and, now, Media Responsibility for our industry, and these Principles are an important step in evolving the conversation across our industry in the new context of today.

Daryl

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