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As the entertainment steadily shifts more towards streaming output, advertisers and corporations have been forced to alter their strategies for reaching the broadest range of consumers. But even the most surefire tactics, such as pumping commercials out to O.G. streaming giant YouTube, aren't immune to disasters, and a bunch of huge companies like Walmart and PepsiCo have pulled all advertising from the service after it was revealed their ads were being paired with racist and unsavory videos. Why they gotta make Walmart's smiley face all sad?
In what is shaping out to be one of the biggest advertising boycotts in some time, Friday saw Walmart, Coca Cola, PepsiCo and Dish Network all announced they'd axed all YouTube and Google ties (minus targeted search ads), while Starbucks and General Motors reported they'd pulled YouTube commercials. FX Networks also announced it was yanking everything from YouTube and Google. A day previous, YouTube lost commercials from Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Volkswagen, Verizon and Enterprise. And it all began not long before on the other side of the pond, when the BBC, the Guardian and the British Cabinet Office all pulled ads from YouTube and Google. What's the deal?
This expanding boycott came around a week after reps from Google and YouTube apologized for having paired such high-market ads with offensive content. But according to the Wall Street Journal, the ads were still appearing on these videos as of Thursday night. I won't get too much into what was in the clips, but they were derogatory in nature to the Jewish population, the black population, former FLOTUS Michelle Obama and many others. Nobody at FX is particularly interested in promoting Season 3 of Fargo to anyone watching 15-minute manifestos of prejudice.
Both Google and YouTube have pledged to strengthen their ad-pairing methods and technologies, but one has to wonder if there's any guarantee of success that doesn't involve someone making the decision to just ban all of the racism-embracing videos altogether. This boycott is an extension of the wave of advertising-yanking that occurred when companies found their ads appearing on "fake news" websites and the like. I dare not guess what the outcome could be, but I'm betting it involves Google and YouTube losing a lot of money in the coming days.
As you might imagine, all the aforementioned companies aren't the only ones whose commercials have been lined up with hate speech. At this time, Toyota and Microsoft are reportedly keeping a close eye on things, while Proctor and Gamble says its team is communicating with Google about the situation. Geico and Amazon, meanwhile, declined to make any comments about their tactics.
So if you happen to be watching YouTube videos or searching Google over the next few days and you notice something a bit off with the commercials and ads, that's why. Also, why would you notice that a Coca Cola commercial isn't playing? Do you always notice when Coca Cola commercials aren't playing? This isn't a Coca Cola commercial. (Drink Coca Cola.) Kidding. What I am not kidding about is how important it is to keep track of your primetime viewing over the coming months. All you need for that is our handy midseason premiere guide and our summer TV schedule.