Protecting Brand Image
Several companies with high profile brands have removed their advertising from Facebook, the social networking web site.First Direct, Vodafone, Virgin Media, the AA, Halifax and the Prudential have all withdrawn advertisements after they appeared alongside a British National Party (BNP) page (BBC, 3rd August 2007).
The BNP is a far right political party that is often associated with racist beliefs and values.Whilst the leadership of the party claims to have undertaken many reforms in recent years, many areas of the party's constitution remain very extreme.The Wikipedia entry for the BNP provides a useful overview of the party.The BNP has made a statement to the BBC in response to the advertisers' actions:
"There's nothing wrong with the BNP.Unfortunately the media have created a bogeyman and really the fault lies with the media, who for some reason have vilified the BNP, and it has scared these people off".
Whether the BNP has made any changes to its political values or not, the party continues to have a negative image amongst much of the population.For major brands, therefore, the prospect of being associated with the politics of the BNP isn't desirable.First Direct, the bank, said its advertising decisions had to match its 'values and identity', whilst Vodafone removed its advertisement because it wanted to 'avoid misunderstandings' (The Times, 3rd August 2007).
The Times 100 case study explains how other Vodafone values relating to the communication of honest and transparent pricing are presented.It is clear that the company want to present a brand image known for strong ethical principles.
Suggested Study Questions:
If you were Facebook, how might you respond to the loss of valuable advertising revenue?
How does the removal of advertising on Facebook by these major companies influence your opinion of their brands?