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Digital Marketing Marketers’ virtue signaling, PR’s diversity problem, backlash at Digital Trends


Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing Marketers’ virtue signaling, PR’s diversity problem, backlash at Digital Trends

Hello and welcome to the Advertising and Media Insider. I’m Lucia Moses, deputy editor for the section. To get this newsletter weekly, sign up for your own here. Companies are talking — but are they walking the walk? Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg Erin Scott/Reuters Corporations are doing a lot of virtue signaling these days. AT&T…

Digital Marketing Marketers’ virtue signaling, PR’s diversity problem, backlash at Digital Trends

Digital Marketing

Hello and welcome to the Advertising and Media Insider. I’m Lucia Moses, deputy editor for the section. To get this newsletter weekly, sign up for your own here.

Digital Marketing Companies are talking — but are they walking the walk?

Digital Marketing Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Erin Scott/Reuters


Corporations are doing a lot of virtue signaling these days. AT&T is offering reassurances they’re “here for us” during the pandemic, Nike is aligning itself with the Black Lives Matter movement, and Disney and others are yanking ads from Tucker Carlson’s Fox News Channel show over his comments about the protests.

Statements are nice, but companies often don’t back them up with marketing decisions, or for very long. Advertisers have a history of pulling ads from a platform or media outlet when it’s out of favor, only to creep back in later after the controversy dies down, claiming the platform has corrected its problems. After years of scandals and content controversies, Facebook and YouTube seem to be doing just fine.

Something feels different this time. An exec at holding company IPG is publicly calling on clients, which include American Express, Coca-Cola, and Johnson & Johnson, to stop advertising with Facebook after it refused to remove President Trump’s inflammatory posts about the protests.

Elijah Harris is appealing to clients’ concerns about brand safety risks — language he knows they all understand.

Read Tanya Dua’s story here: ‘It’s brand safety, not political activism’: High-ranking executives from IPG and other ad agencies are calling on marketers to take a collective stand against Facebook 

Digital Marketing PR’s diversity problem

Digital Marketing Lisa Ross

Edelman US chief operating officer Lisa Ross

Ben Hider/Getty Images for Concordia Summit


Public relations, like other industries, is having a reckoning over its hiring and treatment of people of color, and some top firms are taking steps to addressing the problem. But what happens when the very association created to solve the problem can’t agree on next steps? 

Patrick Coffee and Sean Czarnecki found there’s concern over the direction of the group, the Diversity Action Alliance, while member PR firms are loath to expose their low diversity numbers and commit to other concrete steps.

Digital Marketing Backlash at Digital Trends

The great media reckoning has spread to tech website Digital Trends, where Lauren Johnson and Amanda Perelli reported some staffers are alleging there’s a toxic culture. Key points:

  • The company apologized and committed to seven initiatives, including publishing progress reports and requiring sensitivity and inclusion training.
  • But with media executives far and wide resigning over their handling of diversity issues, the company’s gestures don’t go far enough for some staffers who are calling for nothing less than top execs to step down.

Read more: Digital Trends staffers are calling for 2 of the tech site’s top execs to resign after photos from a 2018 ‘gin and juice’ party circulated on social media

Digital Marketing Here are other great reads from media, advertising, and beyond:

That’s it for this week. See you soon.

— Lucia

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