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Facebook Boycott Grows: Ford Joins Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Other Brands (npr.org)
97 points by FillardMillmore 80 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 69 comments

Do we really need a new post every time another company throws their hat into this? It feels like the 5th time this week seeing another "[brand] joins Facebook boycott" post and all the comments are always the same.

Why not?

Because after the first or second time, there's really no more discussion to be had. This is the reason why mods also remove reposts. Is there anything special about specifically Coca-Cola pulling out that makes the story different than the last ones?

Coca-Cola is widely admired for its marketing prowess. If they make a marketing decision, like pulling ads from Facebook, that’s something that a lot of other marketers will be noticing.

Maybe, though I suspect most of these boycotts are temporary and will likely revert quietly - or that they had almost zero ad spend on Facebook anyway.

The pricing of Facebook Ads isn't changing, so it's unclear if there's any impact.

Cynic in me says this is an awfully convenient way to justify a cut-back in advertising spend during the economic crisis while gaining free PR for being so "socially conscious". Most of these companies even mentioned right in the announcement that it's only for a month.

It's a great way to get one last ping of free, positive press for nothing.

Its nothing more than that imho, no one cared when it was hate speech or election interference or privacy or under moderation or kids. But suddenly, the same day accounting decided to cut the budget they had a moral epiphany? Pfft.

It's neither totally free nor 100% positive.

While I'm pleased to see Facebook losing resources, I've taken notice of those dropping their ads. These companies should be making a product and staying out of politics. Knowingly in the minority, I still seek other options for money that was previously given to them.

Microsoft took a clever stance. The stopped ads, but for 'technical reasons'. They get the publicity and a way to wiggle out when called on it.

Why shouldn't companies have any values that result in "political" decisions?

Maybe, but all of the companies involved can go f!ck themselves if they return to FB with no concessions.

So, a one time ping for an eternal f!ck you?

Doesn't seem to make strategic sense.

Who's going to report on it?

No media outlet hoping for advertising dollars from Starbucks, Coke, etc. So no one.

Sleeping Giants do a good job. As effective as possible all things considered.

I agree on principle, but I don't think FB will refuse these advertisers when they return (and the advertisers know it).

I'm not talkinng about Facebook. They've shown their hand in terms of who they'll accept and their bankrupt moral standpoint.

I just don't think many consumers will let these "paused" companies snuggle back up to FB without a say so. Well, I hope not ... a week is a long time in kicking FB's butt.

You expect Facebook to take a moral stance? Right when the company will be most desperate for those same dollars?

Honestly, your first question stands by itself for all times as far as Facebook is concerned. Facebook is incapable of and disinterested in taking moral stances for any reason.

Coca-Cola have a moral epiphany?


Their primary line of products have are having a net negative effect on peoples health.

As a 10+ yr adtech veteran, that's exactly what this is. It's free marketing to say they're not marketing.

It's happened before in various ways several times (with Facebook, Youtube, etc) and always dissipates eventually. Nobody wants the duopoly to turn into a Google monopoly. Meanwhile it's great for remaining advertisers who have less ad competition and Amazon's growing ad business.

It's exactly what it is. The marketing department does a cost-benefit analysis on whether it gets more attention by buying Facebook ads, versus the (free!) media coverage they get from not buying Facebook ads. This time, the latter seems to be winning.


While the accounting, marketing, legal, and executive folk from these companies and Facebook go to the same bars and social outings and pat each other on the back.

I don't believe that people are looking for brand new cars in the middle of a pandemic, in July. Edmunds and Kelly Blue Book say the best deals are towards the end of the calendar year.

It would be safe to cut advertising especially only for a 30 day period.

If someone is planning to buy a car this year, I don't think they're going to find a better deal than right now. These companies are desperate for business right now. I'm seeing 0 interest loans for 5 years at multiple dealerships near me, which is basically the entire life of most loans.

I bet you could walk in a dealership, offer cash way under MSRP and drive off the lot right now. Nobody is spending any money and businesses are hurting and are willing to take miserable deals just to sell a car.

I've heard anecdotally that the supply of used cars has dried up, but I have no first-hand knowledge.

Also, hasn't manufacturing at least slowed if not stopped?

There are so many shenanigans buying new. 0% is dealer financing and you’d need the manufacturer to drop the price to get leverage from a dealer.

I agree with the pandemic part... Best deals on cars however is likely correlated negatively with natural inclination of sale of new cars. July I think, barring pandemic, in fact might be one of the more popular months to shop for a car from a consumer's perspective.

There actually is a more technical reason. Running up to an election, brand advertising performs SIGNIFICANTLY worse. This is probably pre-emptive.

I wasn't aware of this phenomenon. Is there an intuition behind why this is the case?

All the boycotts I've seen reported are for less than a month, one for half a year. It's barely a blip on the radar for Facebook, but lots of good PR feelings for the boycotters.

Also, all it means is that they're not spending any more money on FB ads. They're still represented on their Pages and accessible via FB.

Just halftime show during the game.

Was going to post something similar, but you beat me to it. There is another added benefit here, time for facebook to lower its rates? once COVID19 is over, and facebook as lowered the rates all these companies will be all over facebook once again... they just cant resist all those "users".

I never looked at it this way but damn. You have a great point.

Some, like Coca-Cola, if they knew what the whole meaning socially conscientious was then would STOP selling their sweetened watery drinks altogether... but I don’t expect them to do that any time soon.

Even if this is cost-cutting move by advertisers it is still a huge win for all promoters of censorship.

ah, yes, this is a very original comment that has not been posted ad infinitum on every "BigCorp boycotts Facebook Ads" thread in the past few weeks...

None or practically none of these companies are actually doing anything real. Pulling ads for a month or two only to go back is an empty gesture.

It gets even worse if you choose to look at this through the lens of: This lets them test the how effective FB ads are during a period of time they are already trying to save a buck AND they get to look "woke" while they do it.

Is this a pessimistic/cynical view? Absolutely but it's from a place of watching this play out over and over with no real change. Fool me a million times and all that...

> None or practically none of these companies are actually doing anything real. Pulling ads for a month or two only to go back is an empty gesture.

Disagree a bit here. While it's not a huge gesture on the part of those participating in the boycott, it may have enough impact on FaceBook that they will change some of their policies. Facebook has already backpedalled a bit and tried to push through some policy changes as damage control, we'll see if there is any long term change.

Ultimately, money (and robbing them of eyes) is the only way to affect change at Facebook. This is costing Facebook a significant amount of money. Not huge amounts, but enough where the executives notice.

Every time I've read the details on these recent stories it says something like "Ford is one of the latest companies to announce a 30-day pause of all social-media advertising on Monday" but the headline is Facebook. Doesn't "all social-media advertising" mean ALL social networks, like Twitter too?

> Doesn't "all social-media advertising" mean ALL social networks, like Twitter too?

Yes. Activist "journalists" are trying to bully Facebook into censoring their political opponents, and the best way they know to do that is to set the narrative that Facebook in particular is “too toxic” for any brand. The brands themselves are choosing either to play into that for pricing leverage, or to tell the truth: that everything is too polarized for most advertising.

Twitter is trying cave right now to deflect the heat to Facebook, it seems, and I'm sure it looks to them like it's working, but it's only a matter of time before the window shifts and they're next.

Only if Facebook doesn't have the fortitude required to call their bluff. At the end of the day, money talks, and if it turns out that their advertising actually drives clicks, they'll advertise there regardless of what they think of the content Facebook "allows".

Not my area of expertise but it would seem that "big tent" advertisers with broad appeal and universal recognition -- Coca-Cola, P&G, Chevrolet, McDonald's, etc -- are much more suited to mass media advertising and are a poor fit for the specificity, niches and micro-segmenting that Facebook allows. Cost per impression is likely far lower with TV ads, despite their high price tag, plus they can be 100% sure the surrounding content is family-friendly and not your crazy uncle's latest political rant. I think this is really about money and placement.

Alternate title:

Companies that don’t benefit much from social media advertising find convenient excuse to stop spending money on it

Most Facebook ad spend is a zero sum game. Starbucks doesn't win tons of new business with their Facebook ads. But they can use it to hold ground against competitors.

This equilibrium was remarkably resilient. But Covid is a hard punch. And it seems to have knocked that equilibrium out of alignment. Everyone has simultaneously lost the benefits of advertising. As a result, everyone can unilaterally disarm.

The impetus is important. But there are structural reasons for the current environment. Similarly, once the current environment subsides, if nothing is changed, the old regime is likely to reassert itself.

Social media is the medium through which modern civil discourse is occurring. It is where political opinions are formed. To have all the major corporations strong-arm these companies to limit speech is dangerous. Companies should not determine the overton window.

I agree, but if we have turned over ownership and control of media to private corporations we are foolish to expect anything except more censored, biased media in the longterm.

As Cory Doctorow has pointed out the problem is that there are oligopolies in the first place, not how they are implementing "correct thought rules".

Facebook, Twitter, Google should be broken up, they ought not to exist in their current media-distorting massiveness if we are serious about this problem.

Is Ford even making something to sell right now? I don’t know why these companies would be advertising when massive numbers of people can’t buy your product right now.

Advertising now seems like a waste of money.

Social Media companies are learning that moderation or algorithmic news feeds inevitably are perceived as a kind of non-neutral editorial control. I don't think you can have moderation at large scale without it being perceived as such.

Why didn't this happen with [10 year old bulletin board] of yore? Maybe the stakes were lower? Maybe the population was more homogeneous? Maybe the arguments were happening outside of an online space? Was the political space different? Or all of the above?

For FMCG and mega brands, The intent with omnichannel marketing is to maintain top of the mind recall. Accordingly, it is crucial to maintain advertising presence everywhere customers expend their attention.

Shameless Source: Wrote the book on this - https://www.amazon.com/Everything-learned-200-about-Marketin...

Isn't ad space by auction anyway? So if the highest bidders leave it just means the highest bid is a bit lower

Cheaper ads for the rest of us!

I really haven't seen any of the hate speech that's so revolting to these companies. I've seen them block links to websites that occasionally flirt with the far right, and I've seen their censorship ban memes that are innocent, so I don't know what they're so agitated over.

Facebook will be concerned but not particularly worried.

These advertisers will be back and the bulk of their revenue comes from SMBs who will never move their advertising dollars. People who have never had to run ads fail to understand just how superior Facebook's platform is for certain businesses/audiences.

There's an old saying that has long struck me as being both horrid and true - "Kick a dog and it will always crawl back in the end". While I don't condone animal abuse, I see this all the time in human relationships. Once someone has power over you, you will gladly suffer abuse from them. And return for more. Repeatedly.

The climax of this boycott will come when companies that have never even advertised on Facebook declare they will not be advertising on Facebook. No one will bother to fact check, and they get to ride on the free PR.

So yea, fuck the companies doing these PR stunts and their opportunistic advertising.

{being ultra cynical here} The ultimate will be when companies specifically start advertising on Facebook, just so they can then pull that advertising to do the virtue signalling.

Or perhaps say they will stop advertising, and then actually never stop.

All the little brands selling stuff on my Facebook feed are probably stoked they are printing money now because of reduced ad rates. I remember the early days of Google Adwords where you could just print money putting up affiliate links to stuff because ads were so cheap.

If any representative of these big brands reads this, and you really want to make a statement, you can buy https://www.quitfacebook.org for one million euros.

Has anyone ever actually seen a Coca-Cola ad on Facebook? I can't remember ever getting any advertisements that weren't for obscure scientific equipment or scammy mobile apps.

Yeah I was going to say that. I'm not sure if that is due to our weird interests. :)

I was curious about this so I scrolled Facebook until I got ten ads. They were:

Village of Oak Park - Census

Chicago Tribune

Common Ground Oak Park (podcast by village board member)


Ultimate Ears Pro

Home Run Inn Pizza


Merrick Pet Care


South Loop Symphony Orchestra

HBO is wasting their money on me since I get it for free with my internet service. I'm guessing I got targeted by the two Oak Park ads because I spend most of my FB time in the local dads' group. The Merrick Pet Care one is a bit of near miss targeting—I'm "friends" with the veterinary hospital my brother owns but I don't have any pets right now and given my wife's attitude towards animal hair, I don't expect to in the future.

There’s a simple 2 step plan to restoring sanity at Facebook and luckily it’s like one of those coding tasks where you’re just deleting lines and lines of code:

1. Fire the politically-motivated class of executives that sent the company on this ridiculous revenue trot in the first place 2. Kick all the politicians off the platform

There’s a very small addressable market of cash FB could ever capture from politics (compared to the addressable total market of the productive economy), and its tainted money. Just watch it go away, maybe you can watch some competitors throw themselves on the rocks with it.

FB being "cancelled" by the "wake mob" just make me think FB may be not that bad after all.

As if advertisers don't have enough influence over media already...

“In report what a politician says, we think it's important that people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms, too."

News outlets don’t give up the stage and leave viewers without context or basic fact checking. Well, most of them. Facebook wants to be the Fox News of social media, not a platform for social engagement, which can’t happen when your business model is misinformation and manufactured right wing rage.

Neither Ford nor Coca-Cola pulled out of Nazi Germany until ~1941. IS Facebook really that bad?

When will there be a boycott of the New York Times for publishing the lies of Judith Miller that led to the direct deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children?

Is there going to be a boycott of Coca-Cola for their support of right-wing regimes in Colombia that murder, torture and rape the Indigenous?

What about a boycott of Ford for producing automobiles that are destroying our planet?

Don't worry, none of the above will happen because they do not increase the censorship capabilities of the state on the free internet.

Keep voting and emoting. We have only 10 years to irreversible climate change. Keep it up.

I'm really disappointed to see all these brands jump on this train. They're basically arguing for political censorship. I haven't seen ads from these companies myself, but seeing press about them entering the cultural/political/ideological wars makes me less likely to shop from them.

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