Coca-Cola pauses social media advertising

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Coca-Cola, a major force in global advertising, announced on Friday (June 26) it would suspend ads on social media for at least 30 days, as platforms face a reckoning over how they deal with racist content.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” Mr James Quincey, chairman and chief executive officer of The Coca-Cola Company, said in a brief statement.

Coca-Cola bottles on a shelf at a supermarket in Nice, France, on Jan 20, 2020.
Coca-Cola bottles on a shelf at a supermarket in Nice, France, on Jan 20, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

He said social media companies – which other major brands have boycotted to force changes in how they deal with hateful material – need to provide “greater accountability and transparency”.

Coca-Cola will use the pause to “reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed”, Mr Quincey said.

The beverage giant told CNBC that the “break” does not mean it is joining the movement launched last week by African-American and civil society groups.

The coalition, which includes the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP), has been urging companies to stop advertising on Facebook, using the #StopHateForProfit hashtag.

It aims to achieve better regulation of groups inciting hatred, racism or violence on the platform.

Unilever, home to brands including Lipton tea and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, said it would stop advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the US until the end of 2020 due to the “polarised election period”. Facebook said on Friday it would ban a “wider category of hateful content” in ads as the embattled social media giant moved to respond to widening protests over its handling of inflammatory posts.

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