When the Facebook boycott began in June, media experts and buyers told Adweek it was “unlikely” to see a “sizable ad boycott—let alone one that rattles Facebook.”
But after nearly 1,100 businesses and more than 100 nonprofits pulled their ads from the platform through July as part of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, Facebook did take some action, most notably releasing its civil rights audit, agreeing to an independent audit of hate speech and banning hate groups like the Boogaloo movement.
The unprecedentedly firm public stand on the part of brands may have only lasted for a month for most of the major companies (like Walt Disney, Coca-Cola and Microsoft), but some took indefinite leaves from advertising on Facebook in protest (like Unilever). What lessons, if any, have Americans learned about the campaign?
Piplsay polled 20,253 people nationwide to gain insights into public opinion on the #StopHateForProfit movement spearheaded by the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, Common Sense Media, Free Press the NAACP and Sleeping Giants. Per the marketing research blog’s survey, more than half of Americans (58%) thought the Facebook ad boycott was a fair move, and the same number indicated platforms like Facebook should act more responsibly when handling divisive content.
However, according to the report, fewer than half of Americans (40%) believe the boycott will lead to meaningful change at the social media platform, which has remained resolute about its “hands-off” approach to posts that use hateful rhetoric or incite violence. Twenty percent of Americans also think brands were just participating in #StopHateForProfit as a public relations stunt, which could hinder brands’ image of authenticity. Thirty-five percent of Gen Zers and millennials, who often express a desire for more authenticity in their preferred influencers, brands and products, said most brands that took part in the boycott were either doing it for PR or to save costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
When it comes to the brands like North Face and Heineken that resumed advertising on Facebook in August after the campaign officially ended, Americans have mixed feelings. About a third (31%) weren’t sure how they felt, another third felt that the brands sent out a strong message (34%) and the remaining respondents (35%) believed real change will only come from a longer boycott.