Brands pull ads from Facebook, but not its largest advertisers

Jul 2, 2020, 5:51 AM | Updated: Dec 30, 2022, 11:25 am
Facebook boycott home depot...
A Home Depot Inc. store stands in Reston, Virginia, U.S., on Thursday, May 21, 2020. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Originally Published: 01 JUL 20 13:37 ET
Updated: 02 JUL 20 06:29 ET

(CNN) — Hundreds of companies have promised to halt advertising on Facebook and its sibling platform Instagram as part of month-long boycott officially set to begin on Wednesday, according to the civil rights groups behind the protest.

But even as a steady drumbeat of household names like The North Face, Pfizer and Levi Strauss have joined the pressure campaign over the social network’s handling of hate speech and misinformation, the vast majority of Facebook’s biggest advertisers — the ones with presumably the most leverage — have stayed quiet.

A CNN Business analysis of Facebook’s top advertisers, based on data from market research firm Pathmatics, reveals that most of the 100 biggest ad spenders on the platform have not joined the boycott. The list of companies that have yet to pause advertising on Facebook includes Walmart, American Express and Home Depot.

Of the 25 largest spenders on Facebook ads last year, only three companies — Microsoft, Starbucks and Pfizer — have publicly confirmed their plans to pause marketing on Facebook. Those top 25 businesses, according to the data, accounted for an estimated $2 billion of Facebook advertising spend, or nearly 3% of Facebook’s 2019 revenues.

The data suggest the ongoing boycott may have a limited impact on Facebook’s bottom line, at least as it stands right now. Even if all 100 of Facebook’s biggest advertisers joined in, they would account for just 6% of the company’s annual ad revenue.

Last Friday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees: “My guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough,” according to tech website The Information.

Facebook spokesperson Tom Channick confirmed the accuracy of the remarks to CNN Business. “We take these matters very seriously and respect the feedback from our partners. We’re making real progress keeping hate speech off our platform, and we don’t benefit from this kind of content. But as we’ve said, we make policy changes based on principles, not revenue pressures,” Channick added.

The majority of the top spenders haven’t made any statements on the matter. Most of the top 25 brands did not respond to requests for comment from CNN Business, including Walmart, Uber, Netflix, Domino’s and American Express. AT&T, which owns WarnerMedia, CNN’s parent company, also has not made a public comment regarding their advertising plans on Facebook.

Some brands provided non-committal responses. Home Depot, Facebook’s single largest advertiser in 2019 according to Pathmatics with $178.5 million spent on the platform, declined to say if it has made any changes. But, Home Depot said in a statement, it is evaluating the steps Zuckerberg said the platform would take during a livestream last week.

“Given the measures they just announced on Friday, we’re watching this very closely,” said Sara Gorman, a Home Depot spokesperson.

Procter & Gamble, the consumer goods giant and Facebook’s seventh-largest advertiser with an estimated $92.3 million spent last year, declined to comment on its plans for any specific advertising channel, but reiterated that it has launched a “comprehensive review” of its advertising partners.

“Where we determine our standards are not met, we will take action, up to and including stopping spending, just like we’ve done before,” said Marc Pritchard, the company’s chief brand officer, in remarks last week. Pritchard added that P&G does not advertise on thousands of sites because they do not meet the company’s standards.

A Wells Fargo spokesperson said the company is “evaluating” its usage of Facebook and will make a decision “that is best aligned with the needs of our customers.”

“We condemn bigotry, racism and anti-Semitism and we are pleased to see Facebook take the needed additional steps to stop the usage of hate speech on their platform,” the spokesperson said.

Uber, which did not respond to CNN Business’s questions about whether it’s joining the boycott, announced a new advertising campaign on Wednesday running on TV, social media and its app. The campaign is called “No mask. No Ride” and features its drivers and food delivery workers.

Facebook generated nearly $70 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to its financial statements, most of which comes from small and medium-sized businesses.

Zuckerberg has agreed to join a meeting with the civil rights groups that organized the boycott to discuss their proposals for change, Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesperson, confirmed to CNN Business on Wednesday.

“They asked about having Mark at the meeting, and we’ve since confirmed that Mark is able to join,” Stone said in a statement. “We’re waiting to hear back and look forward to the opportunity to continue the dialogue.”

For now, at least, that dialogue will go on without the involvement of many of the companies Facebook and Zuckerberg might be the most scared to lose.

Editor’s note: This story’s original headline — “These are the big brands that haven’t pulled ads from Facebook yet” — has been revised to better reflect that, as the article notes, many of the biggest advertisers on Facebook have not pulled ads, and the effectiveness of the boycott is limited as a result. Additionally, an earlier version of this article misstated when Mark Zuckerberg made his remarks about advertisers returning to the platform.

™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Business + Economy

Utah's deregulating the workforce is something the rest of the nation could learn from. It's a topi...
Mark Jones

What America could learn from Utah’s deregulating workforce

A tight labor market continues to hurt the rest of the nation. Utah, on the other hand, is deregulating its workforce by making some key changes to help build its economy and fill job openings. It's something the rest of America could learn from. 
2 days ago
A customer pumps gas at an Exxon gas station, Tuesday, May 10, 2022, in Miami. U.S consumers have s...
Adam Small

Utah gas prices spike, Governor blames regional supply

Gov, Cox addressed the surge earlier this week. Utah is running nearly $.25 higher than the national average.
2 days ago
After years of Provo, Utah, residents driving to Orem to shop at a large Target, their dream of hav...
Cassidy Wixom

Full-sized Target coming to former Dillard’s at Provo’s Towne Centre

Real estate firm Brixton Capital announced Monday that a new Target will occupy the former Dillard's building at Provo Towne Centre.
2 days ago
quit their jobs...
PAUL WISEMAN AP Economics Writer

US added a strong 517,000 jobs in January despite Fed hikes

The Fed is aiming to achieve a "soft landing" — a pullback in the economy that is enough to tame high inflation without triggering recession.
6 days ago
Multiple dollar bills are pictured, social security will see a bump...
Mark Jones

Eyeing retirement: How much money is enough after you leave a job?

How do you know when it's time to leave a job or if you'll have enough for retirement? Dave and Dujanovic talk to a financial planner about this important question.
7 days ago
interest rate...
Curt Gresseth

Interest rate ticks up. Time to tame your debt.

The chief financial analyst for joins the show to talk about the rising interest rate and how you can get out from under the debt you have accumulated.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Skier being towed by a rider on a horse. Skijoring....
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking for a New Winter Activity? Try Skijoring in Bear Lake

This article about skijoring is sponsored by the Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau. Participate in Skijoring the Bear on February 20th, 2023.  What is skijoring? Skijoring is when someone on skis is pulled by a horse, dog, animal, or motor vehicle. The driver leads the skiers through an obstacle course over jumps, hoops, and […]
Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Brands pull ads from Facebook, but not its largest advertisers