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IPG announces Media Responsibility Principles

Response to the Stop Hate For Profit campaign has already seen nearly 10% wiped off Facebook's market value in a few days. Unilever's announcement that it was pulling investment through to the end of the year had a particularly big impact.

There is some debate over whether the current boycott will have a lasting effect on Facebook's fortunes. But we are already starting to see wider implications emerge.

Case in point: IPG Mediabrands' recent announcement of it's new Media Responsibility Principles. This is a bold step from a media agency, and important for taking a leadership position on this issue rather than just relying on/hiding behind clients.

Global CEO Daryl Lee expressed this in a self-evident truth that maybe isn't communicated strongly enough normally: that this isn't just a case of brand safety but public good.

"It is not enough for brand safety to be about protecting the brand - there must also be a commitment to protect the communities that a brand serves"

Similarly, IPG's Global Brand Safety Officer Joshua Lowcock explained that...

“Our Media Responsibility Principles will serve as an important check and balance in helping marketers and their agencies make better decisions on where to invest media and hold partners accountable.”

Which is all important stuff. Whether these principles are just advisory for clients or something IPG enforce more vigorously only time will tell. If it's the latter that really would be a statement. But if a client wants Facebook or Fox News maybe IPG will have little choice. In which case these principles may never be more than a bit of issue-washing cloud cover IPG can point to.

Either way, you have to start somewhere. And hopefully others will now follow suit, putting media owners (both old and new) under pressure to clean up their acts, allowing our whole industry to move in a direction that emphasises respect over hate and serving the public good over sowing the seeds of division.

In detail IPG's 10 principles are...


Seek out media partners that foster balanced, constructive discourse and respectful civil commentary. Avoid and eliminate working with media partners or platforms that create hostile conversation environments. This includes holding partners accountable if individuals, content or programming consistently confronts an individual or group of individuals based on their religion, race or sexual orientation.


Prioritize partners that protect people from harm. This includes requiring partners to take active steps to prevent predatory behavior against an individual or group of individuals. Require partners to flag, limit or remove content that would mislead people as to their rights or how to access public services.


Media partners need to demonstrate that they celebrate all forms of diversity, including all genders, multicultural backgrounds, ages, sexual orientations, people with disabilities, all socio-economic groups, and faiths. That when advertising is delivered, there is conscious effort made to ensure that the ads are delivered against an audience that is representative of the diversity in the population and non-discriminatory.


That media partners and advertisers collect and use data in ways that are ethical, accountable and fair. That data is collected and used in way that complies with all applicable regulations and industry codes. That rules exist so that data is not used in advertising in a way that would inadvertently or unintentionally discriminate against an individual or group of individuals or their ability to access employment, housing, or other products and services.


Media partners and advertisers have a shared responsibility to ensure that both regulatory and industry codes are consistently applied for protecting the welfare of children. That partners are required to demonstrate that they have the appropriate controls in place to protect children and, as necessary, age gate the delivery of advertising where necessary.


Brands should not fund hate speech or extremist content. Avoid advertising with media outlets that fuel hatred on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, migration status, sexuality, gender or gender identity, disability or any other group characteristic. This includes not advertising on content, services, or platforms where there is speech that attempts to dehumanize a person or group of people or that promotes or features content that would incite violence or discrimination.


That media investment will be directed to partners that ensure people receive quality, factual information that enables them to make well-informed decisions and not fund partners or content that spread misinformation. Advertising should not fund misinformation or disinformation. Platforms will fact check information published by high-profile and/or high reach accounts; ensure that factual information from reputable sources is published alongside false claims from said accounts; and put systems in place to stop amplification of false information. Priority areas include topics around healthcare and the environment.


That any media partner consistently apply their own terms of use policy. That partners in a common category or vertical align on a common policy standard that outlines the expectations of those on the platforms, whether they be end-users, creators, or hosts, and that the policies be transparently enforced regardless of role, title, position, or office.


That there be supply chain transparency so that advertisers know when and where they are advertising, whether this be a publisher, platform, program, or page. So that advertisers can make informed decisions that will enable compliance with these overarching principles.


That each party in the advertising supply chain, Advertisers, Agencies, and Publishers/Platforms will hold themselves individually accountable for adhering to these principles. That we collectively recognize that revenue from advertising is a privilege and not a right, and that there must be an open and honest dialogue with partners who fail to be accountable to these principles.

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