Should B2B follow suit and adopt an advertising boycott?

Ledger Bennett Content Marketing

It’s the same thing every year. As Christmas creeps up on us, seasonal marketing campaigns slowly begin to trickle out, like festive dominoes, once one hits the big screen, the others all quickly follow. Except this year, there’s been a slight deviation in the promotional Christmas narrative.

Marketing has (finally) found its moral compass, and after a year of questionable headlines and negative media coverage the ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign has arisen. Encouraging brands to boycott media entities like The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express on moral grounds, the campaign has attempted to harness the positive spirit of Christmas to fight back against those peddling potentially unethical agendas. A new world filled with Marketing ethics is upon us.

Pressure of the people

Many prominent brands have been put under pressure to take action. John Lewis have been inundated with messages fresh on the heels of their new Christmas campaign, and this has been further support by The Vaults, whose track features on their new ad. Of course, the idea of boycotting media outlets for the things they say is dubious at best, should consumers really look to impose their own agendas onto the brands they support? What happened to freedom of speech? Whatever the answer, the real question we need to ask ourselves in the world of B2B is whether these Marketing ethics apply to us?

Emotion IS a factor in purchase

The argument that B2B buyers aren’t emotionally invested in buying decisions just doesn’t wash anymore. Research from Google shows that whilst B2B buyers are looking to minimise risk, they are almost 50% more likely to look for a purchase with personal value – confidence, pride, advancement. The question is, what weight of influence does a potentially negative association yield? Would you choose an alternative solution for your business if you found out it was associated with a questionable media outlet?

In my experience working within B2C, I have seen evidence of ‘personal branding’. Individuals have amassed a collection of brands around them as they feel, consciously or subconsciously, that their choices reflect a part of who they are. Is the same true in B2B?

I’ve not seen any evidence so far. But I must admit, if I was alerted to one of my client’s ads that was on a site where the politics overshadowed the publication, I’d be questioning what it was doing there in the first place. As a B2B buyer, would I stop buying a product? Probably not, but I’d think twice before actively recommending to others, as I would be concerned about the impact my association could have. It’s an interesting dilemma though, isn’t it?

Marketing Ethics: Taking action

So, if you hypothetically wanted to prevent your company ads appearing on a particular website, how would you go about it? I caught up with our resident Inbound expert, Nick Gaunt to ask that very question.

“Excluding websites, placements or publishers is super straight forward in any of the main platforms, they just happen to call it different things. These exclusion tools are most commonly used in campaign optimisation – so for example, when a website spending a ton of budget is not driving engagement, it’s got to go! But the same practice can also be applied on a quality basis i.e. this isn’t the type of website we want to associate with, and it’s here that we reach our moral exclusion stance.

So whether you want to exclude a placement in AdWords or add a site to your global Double Click Bid Manager (DBM) blacklist, if you want them gone you’re only a couple of clicks away.”

In fact, if you need help with managing your associations, contact us, we’re more than happy to help weed out those publications failing to represent your companies’ beliefs.