Jun 23, 2020 - Technology

Outdoor brands lead the call for Facebook ad boycott

Illustration of a Facebook "like" symbol holding a protest sign.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Patagonia became the third major outdoor brand to say it was boycotting Facebook and Instagram on Sunday, following similar moves by North Face and REI.

Why it matters: Tension between advertisers and the tech giant has existed for years, but now — as the country faces a reckoning over systemic racism — marketers feel more compelled to take a public stand on filtering hate speech.

Driving the news: In an email to clients obtained by the Wall Street Journal on Friday, 360i, a digital-ad agency owned by global ad holding group Dentsu Group Inc., urged its clients to support the ad boycott being advocated by civil rights groups. 

  • Smaller brands like UpWork and HigherRing have also joined the boycott.
  • Earlier this month, Talkspace CEO Oren Frank tweeted that the company discontinued its partnership discussions with Facebook.

Catch up quick: The push for an ad boycott began last week, when six civil rights groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, began urging marketers to stop buying ads on Facebook, using the hashtag #stophateforprofit in a bid to pressure the company to take firmer action against hate speech and other harmful material.

Yes, but: Scattered boycotts rarely amount to significant revenue losses for the company, which saw almost $70 billion in ad revenue last year.

This time, however, the threat of protests comes as the industry is already struggling due to the coronavirus-induced recession, with 2020 digital ad revenue now expected to come in billions below original estimates.

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