The Pause that Refreshes… Coke Pulls the Plug on FB Ads

Well, add Coca-Cola to the list of brands that have hit pause on their social media advertising.

According to Karlene Lukovitz in MediaPost, the beverage brand halted all social media ads at least through July.

The same day, “Dockers and Levi’s said they are suspending advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and Hershey said it will cut spending on those two platforms by a third through the end of the year,” Lukovitz reported.

The Coca-Cola news came as Facebook announced their revised content and ad policy meant to placate the concerns of brands looking to distance themselves from hate content and disinformation on the platform.

For many, it’s too little and far too late.

“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media,” James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of the beverage giant, wrote on the company’s blog. “The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners.”

According to Lukovitz, Facebook’s stock dropped 8% following Unilever’s announcement that they were suspending social ads in late June.

“Unilever has spent about $11.8 million on Facebook ads in the U.S. this year, according to Pathmatics, which estimated that the company last year spent just over $42 million on the platform,” Lukovitz notes.

This time the blowback seems much more serious than previous boycotts on YouTube. This time it seems brands are realizing they do have a choice, that they aren’t beholden to a platform that continues to disappoint its ad partners.

“Large advertisers that had joined the boycott prior to Unilever’s move on Friday include T-Mobile, Ben & Jerry’s, Eddie Bauer, Magnolia Pictures, Patagonia, The North Face, REI, Upwork, and Verizon,” Lukovitz writes. “According to a running list posted by Sleeping Giants, about 90 advertisers were on board as of June 26.”

Zuckerberg, meanwhile, appears in over his head as Facebook scrambles to adjust its policies enough to appease all sides … a fruitless task.

Will this pause lead to true change in social media, with owners of the platforms taking responsibility for the content they publish? Or will this be the break where brands learn they really don’t need those social ads after all?