By Kylie McMullan and Paul Nixey
We’ve both worked in marketing and public relations for 20 years.
During COVID-19, it’s more important than ever that communicators play our part in how public health and public issues are talked about. We take our responsibilities seriously, and as an industry we’ve always played a role in what messages get communicated and the imagery that is disseminated for good and bad.
Here’s the thing: the advertising, marketing, crisis communications, and public relations industry is at a major crossroads. We work to influence public opinion, and we affect real change on behalf of the organizations we represent. Whether that’s pushing our clients or companies to step up on diversity and inclusion, or supporting Black Lives Matter through donations and advocacy, or using our platforms and skills to support BIPOC companies and non-profits in amplifying their messaging, we have a real and vital role to play. And we know as an industry we also have to look inward and ensure we're hiring and promoting diverse talent on the agency side and taking concrete steps in creating a profession that better reflects the communities we live in.
We identify as allies to the BLM movement. We’re also both white entrepreneurs and we recognize that we have tremendous privilege. We’re listening, we’re learning, and we’re committing to do better.
We’re also committing to putting our dollars where our mouths are.
Finch Media and Nixey Communications are competitors in a small market. Today, we’ve partnered to join the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Facebook refuses to moderate hate speech. Facebook refuses to moderate anti-Black racism. The company refuses to stop misinformation, and it’s time to put an end to it with our dollars.
Because of this, both companies have committed to stop spending advertising dollars on Facebook ad services promoting our businesses. Between us, we’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars advertising on Facebook—and that stops today.
The #StopHateForProfit campaign is being led by civil rights and advocacy groups like Sleeping Giants, NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and Colour of Change as well as others. The campaign calls on companies to pause their advertising spend on Facebook services including Facebook and Instagram in July. Since the campaign started, many companies have joined including massive brands like Starbucks, Unilever, and Coca-Cola to put pressure on Facebook to address the real concerns around the platforms’ policies. Local companies have also joined including Lululemon and MEC. Facebook has lost an estimated $56 billion US in market value.
In the grand scheme of things, we’re very small fish, but we’re committed to doing our part as agencies and small business owners.
Small businesses like ours drive the majority of Facebook’s ad revenues; not the big brands. Since we announced our support of the campaign, a handful of other local agencies like AHA Creative have joined in. We’d like to expand this roster and will be reaching out to other communications firms in the coming days, inviting them to join us (if you’d like to join, or have feedback or ideas, please send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
Every dollar we spend matters. It’s true about consumers, and it’s true about companies.
Where we spend our money tells a story about what we support and our values. Given Facebook’s decisions not to moderate hate speech or stem the spread of misinformation, it’s clear that this is a business we can no longer support with our advertising dollars.
We need to hold social media platforms accountable if we’re going to build a more equitable world. We’re asking Vancouver agencies, and agencies across Canada, to join us in the #StopHateForProfit campaign.
Let’s create lasting change that we can all be proud of.