Beer ads keep showing up on ISIS YouTube videos
If you’ve been watching ISIS videos on YouTube lately (boy, you must be fun at parties!), you might have noticed that some of them start with advertisements. Ads for beer, paper towels, and deodorant are all showing up before violent propaganda music videos and recruitment game demos.
One of the ads features Jennifer Aniston shilling for Aveeno lotion. Once finished, it cuts to a slideshow feature a photo of a masked man on a rooftop holding a bazooka. Other products include Bounty paper towels, Bud Light, Secret deodorant.
This isn’t a bold new frontier for consumer capitalism, but an error. Ads are automatically placed before videos, and thus these ads appeared before the ISIS videos. YouTube didn’t profit from the ads, and neither did ISIS. So there’s no need to worry that the company that makes the shitty alcoholic pond water you like is indirectly funding a violent terrorist group. At least, not in this particular instance.
The brands, in their own neutered PR-ish way, are pissed. Paul Fox, Director of Corporate Communications at Procter & Gamble, responded:
“Our ads should not have appeared and we’re working with YouTube to understand how it happened and to avoid it happening again.”
The Vice President of Consumer Connections at Anheuser-Busch also chimed in:
“We were unaware that one of our ads ran in conjunction with this video. We have strict guidelines with our media partners that govern when and how our ads appear. We are working with YouTube and our media buying agency, Mediacom, to understand and rectify the matter.”
You know it’s bad when they refuse to mention, however vaguely, the content of the videos they’re referring to.
A spokesperson for YouTube provided the following statement to Ad Age:
“YouTube has clear policies prohibiting content intended to incite violence, and we remove videos violating these policies when flagged by our users. We also have stringent advertising guidelines, and work to prevent ads appearing against any video, channel or page once we determine that the content is not appropriate for our advertising partners.”
Though YouTube does try to prevent this sort of thing from happening, and they have since removed one of the videos the ads were initially spotted in, it’s pretty difficult to filter through content when 300 hours of it is uploaded per minute. These violent collisions will probably keep happening, however sporadically, and — considering the cynical nature of advertising — the brands kind of deserve it.