Major drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has halted all global advertising on the video-sharing site YouTube in response to concerns product marketing appeared next to offensive content such as hate speech.
Official Johnson & Johnson Statement:
“Johnson & Johnson has decided to pause all YouTube digital advertising globally to ensure our product advertising does not appear on channels that promote offensive content. We take this matter very seriously and will continue to take every measure to ensure our brand advertising is consistent with our brand values.”
J&J joins a growing list of large corporations, including major advertiser AT&T, that have opted to pull advertising from running on the Google-owned media channel.
Alarm began to spread following an investigation by the British newspaper The Times which found advertising from well-known brands appeared next to content from extremist groups. ISBA, a U.K. advertising association with over 400 corporate members, urged Google shortly thereafter to review its policies and withdraw any ad inventory it could not guarantee wouldn't appear next to offending material.
“ISBA urges Google immediately to review its policies and controls on the placement of advertising and to raise the bar to eliminate the risk of brands being damaged by inappropriate context. Whatever Google's editorial policy, advertising should only be sold against content that is safe for brands.”
British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline is also reported to have paused advertising on YouTube, and several other pharma subsidiaries are of the British ad association ISBA which had expressed alarm last week.
Pharmaceutical companies, however, may be less affected globally than other advertisers. Most developed countries, with the notable exceptions of the U.S. and New Zealand, prohibit direct-to-consumer marketing of drugs, limiting the potential for product marketing to appear next to inappropriate content on consumer channels like YouTube.