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Unilever’s Facebook ad boycott only applies to US, won’t affect Indian subsidiary HUL

Unilever will be stopping ads on platforms like Facebook & Twitter as part of a US campaign aimed at building pressure on social media sites to crack down on hate speech.

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New Delhi: Global FMCG giant Unilever’s decision to not advertise on Facebook will entail no loss of business for the social media major in its biggest market India. Hindustan Unilever (HUL), the company’s Indian subsidiary, has told ThePrint that the ad boycott only applies to the US.

Unilever announced Friday that it will be stopping ads on social media platforms Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook) and Twitter at least until the end of 2020. The boycott is part of a campaign in the US that is aimed at building pressure on social media sites to crack down on hate speech.

It’s rooted in widespread anger against alleged systemic racism in the US, which has manifested in worldwide “Black Lives Matter” protests after the death of an African-American father named George Floyd at the hands of police personnel in May.

Unilever is one of several brands that have joined the campaign.

But a Hindustan Unilever spokesperson confirmed to ThePrint on email “that the decision only applies to the US”. They were replying to a query on whether Unilever’s decision will also apply to India.

Hindustan Unilever was India’s largest spender on advertising both in 2018 and 2019, according to the Pitch Madison Advertising Report. In 2019, Hindustan Unilever spent Rs 3,400 crore on ads, the report stated. Digital media, the report added, accounted for 23 per cent of all ad spend in India last year.

Also Read: Black Lives Matter must fire up India’s anti-caste movement to fight its central villain

HUL second biggest revenue generator for Unilever

The advertisement boycott in the US stems from the ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign, which was started by civil rights groups in the US after a series of deaths that took place under circumstances that have been attributed to racism.   

The ‘Stop Hate for Profit’ campaign aims to get tech giants like Facebook to do more to tackle hate speech across its platforms.

Unilever, whose bouquet of 400 brands ranges from Dove shampoo to Surf detergent, is one of the world’s biggest advertisers. According to a report in The New York Times, the company spent an estimated $42.4 million on ads last year in the US alone.

So far in 2020, Unilever has spent over $11.8 million on Facebook ads in the US, CNBC said in a report.

Unilever has an annual global advertising budget of around $8-9 billion, and spends around 24 per cent of the budget on digital media, according to a 2016 report in The Economic Times Brand Equity, which focuses on the marketing and advertising industries.

The US market is currently the biggest revenue generator for Unilever, contributing 16.3 per cent of its revenue. Hindustan Unilever is second, contributing 10 per cent of its revenue.

Hindustan Unilever is expected to become Unilever’s biggest revenue generator by 2027, a December 2019 Business Standard report said, quoting forecasts made by the brokerage Edelweiss.

Also Read: Dropping ‘Fair’ from Fair & Lovely won’t erase Indian racism


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  1. I guess in India they are rebranding the name of their fairness cream ‘Fair and Lovely’ . It will be more logical to remove lovely from the name and keeping the Fair part since it is a bleaching cream . Currently they show the reward for using their cream as a successful career . I am unable to think of a reward oblivious to racism. All the best to their sales team for coming up with a new reward .

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