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Beam Suntory and Brown-Forman stop social media ads

Brown-Forman and Beam Suntory have become the latest companies to halt advertising on social media from today (1 July) in a bid to address hate speech.

Beam Suntory’s portfolio includes Jim Beam and Maker’s Mark Bourbons

Spirits producers Brown-Forman, Beam Suntory and US distillery Caledonia Spirits have joined Johnnie Walker owner Diageo, Britvic, Mars, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Unilever, Ford and Adidas in pausing paid advertising on social media for the month of July. Many firms have halted advertising in support of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, a month-long boycott of Facebook to tackle hate speech on the social media platform.

The initiative was launched last month by a group of six organisations: the Anti-Defamation League, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense. The six firms asked companies to “act against hate and disinformation” being spread on Facebook through the Stop Hate for Profit campaign.

On 27 June, Smirnoff maker Diageo it would pause all paid advertising globally on major social media accounts from today (1 July). The group didn’t specify which social media platforms would be included or the length of the advertising pause.

Chicago-headquartered Beam Suntory said it has joined the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, and specified its advertising on Facebook and Instagram in the US would be stopped this month. The firm also pledged to assess its advertising approach beyond July.

The statement said: “We stand up for what’s right, and we stand with all who are committed to the fight against hate speech, racism and prejudice. That’s why Beam Suntory is joining #StopHateForProfit, pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising in the US across our brand portfolio throughout July.

“We hope this collective action helps catalyse positive change and accountability, and we will evaluate our advertising approach beyond July as we await Facebook’s response.”

Last month, Beam Suntory said it would “deepen engagement” with its global diversity and inclusion teams and employee impact groups to “help fuel our inclusive culture and affect positive change”.

Louisville-based Brown-Forman also confirmed it would stop its paid global advertising indefinitely across its portfolio of brands, which includes Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Herradura Tequila, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The group also said it would evaluate its social media strategy.

The firm said: “Respect is at the core of who we are and how we operate. Brown-Forman is taking time to pause and reflect upon how we, along with our media partners, can be better and do better. During this time, we reiterate our belief that more can and should be done to address inequality, hate, and racism.”

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman has suspended social media advertising during July in support of the Stop Hate for Profit campaign

Brown-Forman has also offered a donation to Chris Montana, the African-American founder of Du Nord Craft Spirits, after his warehouse was severely damaged during the anti-racism protests in Minneapolis, US. The firm also said it would “explore and strengthen partnerships” with other distributors, suppliers, and agencies to bring more diversity to the alcohol industry.

Last month, Nearest Green Distillery and Brown-Forman’s Jack Daniel’s brand jointly pledged US$5 million as part of a new initiative to boost diversity across the American whiskey industry.

‘Real, meaningful change’

Vermont-based spirits producer Caledonia Spirits has also joined the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The firm has suspended all Instagram and Facebook advertisements this month and will consider extending the boycott beyond July.

“Our company is built on a strong set of values that typically come to life in our support of our community, farmers, and pollinators,” said Caledonia Spirits’ vice president of marketing, Harry Kahn. “Although we don’t do a lot of advertising, it’s important that we do what is right in every aspect of our business operations and we hope this action will inspire other companies to join us.”

“Like many of the companies participating in the boycott, Caledonia Spirits’ advertising pause will last at least one month – and perhaps longer. The distillery had been running ads on Facebook and Instagram on a weekly basis – a tactic used by thousands of large and small businesses to reach new customers across the country.

“We’re hopeful that the power of this campaign will lead to real, meaningful change from Facebook.”

Earlier this week, US firm Constellation Brands announced it will invest US$100m in black and minority-owned alcohol businesses over the next 10 years as part of a new programme.

Spirits producer Maison Ferrand also said it will rename its Plantation Rum brand to support racial equality in light of recent events.

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