Cats and Hate Speech: The Tragic Irony of Advertising

Cats and Hate Speech: The Tragic Irony of Advertising

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From Kaepernick and Nike to John Lewis and the Daily Mail, advertising and politics have never been so intertwined. Yet, aS campaign group ‘Stop Funding Hate’ point out, the role of advertisers is pivotal, regardless of whether we buy certain newspapers, by clicking on hate fuelled headlines or cute cat videos, we are inevitably boosting readership and incentivising advertiser funding.

In a recent interview Stop Funding Hate released with Chris Clarke, a former Chief Creative Officer at DigitasLBI, eloquently highlighted the problem with advertising today.

“I don’t even like the word consumers, they’re people right, but I think a lot of people recognise they probably have more power as a consumer in terms of the products they choose to buy or don’t buy than they do perhaps even as a voter,” said Clarke.

“One of the great tragedies of the internet really is that because it started with this idea of information wants to be free, the attitude has always been that you shouldn’t pay for content online. The problem with that is obviously people need to get paid, so the only other way, if people aren’t prepared to pay a subscription is to use advertising. When you are ad-funded then you make money from every page view. The newspaper that has managed to benefit from digital distribution the most is the Daily Mail.”

In a world that’s now become so dependent on the instant nature of 'news', factual news has become distorted and diluted as the competition for viral and shareable content triumphs. The unfortunate reality is that the majority of this viral and shareable content has a shock or controversial factor to it. From a celebrity’s bikini body to numerous articles with islamophobic implications, these articles receive a significant amount of attention which only serves to motivate news outlets to continue an agenda of hateful and selective narratives.

There’s an irony to this as many advertisers have their own ethical codes of conduct or publicly support the increasing movements towards greater body confidence, but they advertise through outlets that demonise and objectify.

Clarke further added “I think [the Daily Mail] is one of the biggest if not the biggest source of news stories on Facebook and the way that social media works is that the sort of viralness and the shareability of content comes down to a couple of things. It’s usually either cuteness or anger that motivates, which is why you get videos of cats and you get hate speech and so the Daily Mail has been encouraged to get more and more extreme.”

“All of this stuff is designed to get people clicking and clicking and clicking but what’s started to happen recently is that the news agenda has become so extreme that a brand that would normally happily sit in the central place feels uncomfortable.”

“…some of the kind of vitriolic content in newspapers is not just down to one nasty editor or unethical brand managers, in fact far from it. I think it’s a systemic issue, but if advertisers are uncomfortable with it and many of them are – the fact is that they pay for the internet, they pay for the media that we consume today – and the more they’re held to account the more they recognise their role in society good and bad.”

Current well-known brands that are linked with these newspapers include John Lewis, Debenhams, Pretty Little Thing, Argos and Travelodge.

For more information, including a list of advertisers that no longer advertise on The Sun, Daily Mail or Daily express visit the Stop Funding Hate website.

Stop Funding Hate can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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