Ad Execs Wrestle Over Objectionable Content, Privacy Laws

At this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, attendees aired their concerns about online data privacy and brand safety. The latter has been highlighted over the last years as advertisements have appeared next to objectionable content on Facebook, Google’s YouTube and other digital platforms. McDonald’s, Clorox, Nestlé, Epic Games and AT&T are among the advertisers that froze ads due to this ongoing problem. Some attendees asked for federal privacy regulations to protect consumers and avert state-by-state legislation.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, during a panel titled “The Internet: Don’t Ruin a Good Thing,” McDonald’s corporate vice president of global media and customer relationship management Bob Rupczynski noted that, “the first time your brand is damaged, it’s not easily fixed.”

Anheuser-Busch InBev chief marketing officer Pedro Earp, who is also head of ZX Ventures, stated that Facebook is a “new universe.” “In a new world you have things that shouldn’t be there, we have bad people,” he said. “They are kind of trying to be the police of this new world, but it’s very uncharted territory.”

Unilever and other “major marketers” teamed up with Google, Facebook and Twitter to “fight hate speech, bullying and divisive fake content online.” “We’re in different businesses but we have similar objectives,” said Facebook vice president of global marketing solutions Carolyn Everson. “We want to create an ecosystem for advertisers that is healthy, that consumers feel really positive about — that they feel safe and secure on the platforms, and feel good about the brands that support them.” But she admitted that, “this is not a fully solvable problem.”

That assessment “received mix results.” According to Dentsu Aegis Network executive chairman Tim Andree, “it’s about the end result making us believe they remain vigilant and that they’re pushing for a completely secure and safe platform.”

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz partner/chair of the privacy and data security group Tanya Forsheit noted that, “the California Consumer Privacy Act taking effect next year could hurt brands’ access to data about consumers online.” She added that when the law takes effect, websites will offer an option to a link to “do not sell my personal information.” Consumers are likely to click, said Forsheit, thinking that if they don’t, their Social Security number will be sold.