Is the way to the heart or pocketbook of a Holocaust Denier through his/her stomach? It seems that some major pizza chains may think so. Their ads as well as the ads of other major corporations are allegedly showing up next to Holocaust Denial groups on Facebook. It appears that if you are a Facebook Holocaust Denier, your reward may be some sweet pizza deals from Dominos and Pizza Hut.
Vodaphone, a primarily European Telecom company recently withdrew its ads from Facebook after learning of such ad placement. Tesco, a European based grocer also took action when their ads began showing up next to Facebook Holocaust Denial content.
Both of these companies have a large presence in countries in which it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. It is understandable and predictable that there would be an immediate response to such allegations.
What about U.S. based companies? Should they care that their Facebook advertisements may be showing up in conjunction with such content?
American Airlines cared. When American Airlines representatives learned that their Facebook ads may be showing in conjunction with Holocaust Denial content, they immediately took action. I received the following email from an American representative:
“We have made sure we are not showing up on groups like this (and continue to oversee to ensure. Again, thanks for the heads up on this and let us know if you need anything.”
Are the dollars gained or lost through the removal or re-placement of Facebook advertisements a major source of revenue for American Airlines? I doubt it. So why care?
Holocaust Denial is not illegal in this country. We are country that values the “idea” of free speech even if there is technically no right to free speech on Facebook. So why care?
American Airlines and other advertisers while being able to set general parameters of where their content appears on Facebook have no idea what specific content the ads will appear with. It is a completely random algorithmic placement. So why care?
No one is accusing American Airlines of supporting such views. So why care? Is is not much ado about not much at all?
American Airlines cared because they understand that perception is reality. They understand that in the real world positive consumer branding and loyalty is expensive and a a constant struggle to maintain. A positive consumer brand can take years and millions of dollars to create. It can also be lost in an instant with one social media viral negative perception on an emotional issue whether it be Holocaust Denial or some other form of hatred towards religious, ethnic minority groups.
American Airlines understands that in the Web 2.0 world, it is exponentially quicker and easier to destroy a brand than create one. They understand the concept of socially consciousness branding. A concept apparently lost on Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook
American Airlines is #109 on the 2008 Fortune 500 list of the largest corporations in the United States with revenues of 22,935.00(millions). You do not have to be a marketing Phd to know that their revenues from Facebook add placement out of this is probably less than minuscule. American Airlines still cares.
An organization called the Jewish Internet Defense Force has been spear-heading a campaign to educate corporations about these disturbing ad placements. A representative stated:
A comprehensive list of the companies the JIDF claims are enabling Holocaust Denial with ad placement can be viewed on their web site.
I suspect that neither Dominos or Pizza Hut as corporations support Holocaust Denial. They probably have(or had) no idea that their random/algorithmic Facebook ad rotation could occur in this manner.
Once they and other corporation become aware, what next? Is it ok to be socially concious in your branding at the cost of a few extra pizzas sold from Facebook ads? I think so and I love Pizza. Especiallly when it arrives in 30 mintues or less…