Food Companies Pulling Out of Social Media

June 29, 2020
Food firms are among the companies that are pausing, reevaluating or even stopping their marketing on social media.

Coca-Cola, Unilever and Hershey are joining the group of companies that are pausing, reevaluating or even stopping their marketing on Facebook and other social media.

Criticism of the role of social media in promulgating hate speech and political division has been mounting in the wake of nationwide protests over racial injustice. As a result, prominent companies in food, apparel and other sectors have announced plans to recast their use of social media as advertising vehicles.

Unilever, whose brands include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Hellman’s mayonnaise, stated June 26 that it would stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram indefinitely.

“Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S.,” the company said in a statement on its website. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society.” The statement added that this position would be open to revision in the future if the situation changed.

Unilever spent $42.3 million on Facebook advertising last year, according to research cited by NBC News.

Also on June 26, Hershey stated that it will reduce spending on Facebook and Instagram by one-third.

“We do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform,” the company said in a statement. “Despite repeated assertions by Facebook to take action, we have not seen meaningful change.”

In addition, Coca-Cola announced June 26 that it is suspending its social media advertising for 30 days. “We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed,” CEO James Quincey said in a statement. “We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”