Simon Gwynn
Nov 4, 2019

Unilever pledges no more ads on Pornhub after press criticism

Kraft Heinz declines to say whether it would advertise on porn site again after Sunday Times investigation.

Dollar Shave Club: ads suggested using its products could reduce need for porn
Dollar Shave Club: ads suggested using its products could reduce need for porn

Unilever has vowed to block its brands from advertising on porn sites after the FMCG giant’s razor subscription service Dollar Shave Club was called out in a Sunday Times investigation into Pornhub.

The newspaper called out Unilever and Kraft Heinz, which ran a one-day campaign for US brand Devour, in a story alleging the site was home to large quantities of illegal content, some including young children.

Dollar Shave Club, acquired by Unilever in 2017 for $1bn (£773m), ran a campaign on the site earlier this year. Discussing the decision, the brand’s executive creative director, Matt Knapp, told Australian marketing site Mi3 in May: "There was a strategic reason why we went there. We are very much about having guys’ backs. We like to think that we’re looking out for guys. It’s no secret that guys go there; we turn up where guys are going to be."

A spokeswoman for Unilever said Dollar Shave Club was operationally independent and the parent company had not been aware of the campaign at the time. But she said: "This type of content is deeply troubling and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again or on any other porn sites."

A spokesman for Kraft Heinz, meanwhile, played down the significance of its activity on Pornhub, but did not explicitly say it would not advertise on the site again. He said: "The Devour frozen-food brand, which is only sold in the US, had a one-day promotion solely as part of the brand’s Super Bowl activation. The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram."

The move from Unilever comes almost two years after former chief marketing officer Keith Weed pledged to pull advertising from platforms that were not "committed to creating a positive impact in society".

It is four years since Unilever men’s brand Lynx/Axe moved away from its former highly sexualised positioning to align itself with changing ideas of masculinity.

Pornhub has used marketing extensively to cultivate a brand identity that goes beyond a repository of porn videos. It has offered sex education for seniors – who have booming rates of sexually transmitted infections – and last year became one of several brands attempting to destigmatise periods in a campaign aimed at women, who make up 29% of the site’s users.

Earlier this year, Pornhub created a channel of 'bee porn' in an initiative to boost dwindling bee populations.

 

Source:
Campaign UK

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