In the past couple of days the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have featured stories about companies, including Kellogg’s, pulling their advertising from Breitbart News, where Trump advisor Steve Bannon was the former chairman.
Is ceasing to advertise on Breitbart News: 1) A good marketing (business) decision and 2) the right ethical decision?
There is no question that marketers such as Kellogg’s and Allstate Insurance have the right to free expression and should be able to place their advertising investments wherever they like, but there is a question as to whether it’s a good idea from a business and ethical point of view for advertisers to announce their advertising cancellations.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Kellogg’s was unaware that their advertisements were placed on Breitbart.com, which is not unheard of:
It is common for companies to buy online ads through third-party networks or ad exchanges that place the ads on numerous sites. As a result, many companies may not be aware of which sites on which their ads ultimately appear.
“We determined that the site violates our hate speech prohibition,” said Josh Zeitz, a spokesman for AppNexus. He said that Breitbart was never a direct client, but that some of AppNexus’ technology partners made Breitbart’s inventory available on its exchange.
Breitbart called the decision “un-American,” according to the Washington Post. “Kellogg’s decision to blacklist one of the largest conservative media outlets in America is economic censorship of mainstream conservative political discourse,” it said in the statement,” read the statement.
So in the battle of press releases, Kellogg’s wants the public to believe it pulled its advertising because of consumer complaints and Breitbart’s values, and Breitbart News wants the public to believe that Kellogg’s and other Breitbart-shy advertisers are exercising economic censorship.