Mars suspends YouTube advertising amid brand safety concerns

This comes after an ad for one of its brands, Starburst was shown before a video of drill music group, Moscow 17, which fuels gang violence in London

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Aug 7, 2018 8:53 AM  | 2 min read

Mars, the confectionery company has suspended all of its advertising on YouTube, after an ad for one of its brands, Starburst was shown before a video of drill music group, Moscow 17, which fuels gang violence in London.

Drill music typically features violent lyrics and is used by rival gangs to provoke each other, thus contributing to ongoing gang violence.

According to media reports, the company expressed its disappointment over its ads being shown alongside the video and said that it will refrain from advertising on YouTube until “appropriate safeguards” are put in place by Google.

A spokesperson for Mars said in reports, “This clearly breaches our brand safety guidelines and Mars adverts should never run alongside such content. We have taken the action to remove all our online advertising on YouTube and can confirm we are working with Google and our media buying agencies to understand what went wrong."

This issue is expected to play a significant role in Mars' ongoing media agency review. Currently, MediaCom handles Mars' global media planning, while its media buying is divided among MediaCom, Starcom and OMD.

Speaking on the issue, a Google spokesperson said, "We are actively working with the Metropolitan Police to review videos that may be connected with this incident. Along with others in the UK, we share the deep concern about this issue and do not want our platform used to incite violence."

They also emphasised that the company continuously collaborates with law enforcement to differentiate between artistic freedom and real threats, as in this instance, and that it has been blocking videos which contain persons brandishing weapons in a threatening manner.

However, this development will be troublesome for the tech company, which has taken several measures to remedy brand safety complaints lately. In January the company launched a host of products to handle ad misplacement, with more stringent criteria for YouTube monetisation of content, manual reviews on Google Preferred, and enhanced controls for advertisers when it comes to identifying appropriate content.

Last year companies including M&S, HSBC, McDonald’s and Audi also suspended advertising on YouTube due to brand safety concerns.

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