THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever, one of the world’s largest advertisers, threatened on Monday to snub digital platforms that fail to protect children or help “create division” in society.
Denouncing what it called “toxic online content,” the Rotterdam-based Unilever weighed in on growing concerns about fake news and extremist posts on such networks as Facebook and Google.
“Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger and hate,” its chief marketing officer Keith Weed said.
In a speech to be delivered later Monday, of which AFP has been given extracts, Weed added that “fake news, sexism, terrorists that spread messages of hate, toxic content directed at children … is a million miles from where we thought this would take us.”
Unilever “will prioritise investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact on society,” Weed said in his keynote address to be given at a conference in Palm Desert, California.
Weed said he had met Unilever’s digital partners, including Facebook, Google and Twitter at the global Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January, where he “repeated one point to each and every one of them”.
“It is critical that our brands remain not only in a safe environment, but a suitable one.”
“Unilever, as a trusted advertiser, do not want to advertise on platforms which do not make a positive contribution to society,” Weed said.
Unilever last year spent €7.7 billion on marketing and advertising and is the world’s second-largest advertiser after US-based consumer goods company Procter & Gamble.
Unilever chief financial officer Graeme Pitkethly said in November that some 30% of that total goes to digital advertising.
The company employs some 169,000 people around the world and owns more than 400 household brands including Dove beauty products, Knorr soups, Lipton teas, Magnum ice cream and Marmite.