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Bank of America Hopes a ‘Safety Officer’ Can Keep Its Ads Out of Internet Cesspools

Illustration for article titled Bank of America Hopes a ‘Safety Officer’ Can Keep Its Ads Out of Internet Cesspoolsem/emem/em
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The brands are finally ready to take a bold stand against willingly associating themselves with things that lots of people hate.

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Earlier this month Unilever threatened to yank ads from Google, YouTube, and Facebook if those companies didn’t scrub extremism, hate-speech, misleading propaganda, and disturbing child content from their platforms. And today, Bank of America said it’s launching a similar effort by hiring a “brand safety officer” who will make sure none of the company’s ads are served up next to controversial content.

Bank of America senior vice president Lou Paskalis made the announcement while speaking at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona on Wednesday, but did not reveal who was hired for the job. He said the new role stemmed from growing anxiety within the company.

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“I get a text from my chief financial officer every time there is news about a brand safety issue. I know why he is sending them to me... at some point he is going to say ‘gee is marketing safe to invest in?’ and we don’t want that,” Paskalis said at the event, according to marketing news outlet The Drum.“We have to clean up our house right now.”

We have reached out to Bank of America for comment on the new position.

The Bank of America executive also said his company plans to hire a “cultural anthropologist” to focus on customer behavior. Paskalis said he applauds Unilever’s recent threat to pull ads from the major platforms.

While this is a proactive effort to save the company from upcoming publicity clusterfucks, Paskalis is framing it as a virtuous decision. “It is a function of the marketer to hold to account the individual platforms to get better,” Paskalis told the audience.

[The Drum, The Guardian]

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Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

I’ve always thought it was so weird that so many people consider an ad on a video or page a direct endorsement of the activities or beliefs of that page. I know that yes, technically they pay for any clicks or views on their ad and eventually a tiny fraction of the money goes to where it was viewed, but I also know that these ads likely go through a marketing company, which goes through the host of the content, which is then applied to individual pages in ways that are definitely not manual. The companies are too many steps removed from actual ad placement for me to fault them for it.

I definitely agree with demonetizing user created content on sites like YouTube that are abusive or racist or whatever, but I’ve never seen an ad for bleach on a White Supremecist page (you know, for keeping whites white) and thought Clorox supports ethnic cleansing.

(and no, outside of when a news article references one of them I do not frequent white supremecy sites. That was strictly for the bleach joke. But it still applies to any ad attached to offensive content)