Pornhub adpocalypse as Kraft Heinz and Unilever vow to steer clear of filth

November 4, 2019 10:12 pm

Kraft Heinz and Unilever are vowing to keep ad campaigns away from Pornhub, one of the most-recognized adult-video websites, after a report uncovered disturbing and potentially illegal pornography on the site.

Kraft’s Devour and Unilever’s Dollar Shave Club both ran ad campaigns that appeared on Pornhub this year, marketing decisions that could be viewed as risqué for corporate parents concerned about issues like brand safety. Unilever in particular has prioritized cleaning up the digital ad ecosystem by ensuring its ads appear only alongside appropriate subjects.

Over the weekend, The Sunday Times in the U.K. reported that some of Pornhub’s content veers into creepy and illegal. The report described videos that included sexualized minors and secret public recordings of women. The article prompted a U.K. lawmaker to call for a police investigation.

Unilever and Kraft responded with promises to cut out ads on adult sites: “Kraft Heinz has pledged not to advertise or promote any of its brands on this site or other similar sites,” a Kraft spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement. “The Devour frozen food brand, which is only sold in the U.S., had a one-day promotion solely as part of the brand’s Super Bowl activation. The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram.”

The Devour campaign was seen as edgy but mostly harmless at the time. Also, Pornhub has made some moves toward respectability in recent years, and it has even been considered a possible alternative to YouTube for legitimate online creators in search of a video platform. Google owns YouTube, and over the past two years it has had its own brand safety problems. Most recently, in February, reports surfaced about YouTube videos involving children that attracted pedophiles to the comment sections.

In 2017, the term “adpocalypse” crept into the mainstream after brands began pulling ads from YouTube because they were popping up alongside videos that featured extremist and hate-filled subjects.

Since at least 2018, Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed has been leading the charge for a more “transparent” digital advertising ecosystem and has promised not to support tech platforms that put children at risk and other forms of toxicity online.

Today, the company distanced itself from the Dollar Shave Club campaign that appeared on Pornhub. The company said that Dollar Shave Club has independent operations and the broader company was unaware of the marketing.

“We don’t support advertising on porn sites, and we are extremely concerned about the content that The Sunday Times shared with us. As part of the agreement reached when we acquired the business [in 2016], Dollar Shave Club retains operational independence, which includes how they run their marketing campaigns,” a Unilever spokeswoman said in an e-mail statement. “The Dollar Shave Club team ran a limited-time campaign on Pornhub earlier this year, which is no longer live.

“At the time, Unilever was not aware of the campaign. We were also not aware of the content mentioned,” the statement said. “This type of content is deeply troubling, and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again, or on any other porn sites. Dollar Shave Club has also confirmed that they will not advertise with Pornhub again, or on any other porn sites.”

Pornhub did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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This post was written by Keywords