Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Unilever pause social media ads, Microsoft closes retail stores, and cosmetics brands drop ‘whitening’ terms

Also: Google explains how YouTube content gets promoted and more, UPS Dogs showcase the power of online communities, consumers say trusting brands is paramount, and more.

Hello, communicators:

 Google created a website to explain how YouTube works, including its content policies and procedures.

On the site, YouTube wrote:

At the heart of our approach are the four Rs—we Remove content that violates our policies, Reduce the spread of harmful misinformation and borderline material, Raise up authoritative sources for news and information, and Reward trusted Creators.


Image courtesy of YouTube.

Though the website is a PR effort to showcase the work Google and YouTube have done to curb harmful content and misinformation as well as eliminate hate speech from its platform, PR and marketing pros can gain helpful insights from looking over the “Culture and trends” section of the website. Don’t forget to brush up on YouTube’s “Community Guidelines” as well.

Here are today’s top stories:

Starbucks, Unilever, Coca-Cola and more boycott Facebook

As July 1 nears, the number of organizations joining the #StopHateForProfit boycott is growing, with some brands announcing they’ll stop paid marketing efforts across all social media platforms.

On Sunday, Starbucks published the following statement:

We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech. We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change.

We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech.

“A Starbucks spokesperson told the BBC the social media “pause” would not include YouTube, owned by Google,” BBC reported.

Starbucks joins Unilever, Coca-Cola, Verizon and more in halting social media ads.

On Friday, Unilever announced it would halt Twitter, Facebook and Instagram ads through the end of the year:

Given our Responsibility Framework and the polarized atmosphere in the U.S., we have decided that starting now through at least the end of the year, we will not run brand advertising in social media newsfeed platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society. We will be monitoring ongoing and will revisit our current position if necessary.

We will maintain our total planned media investment in the U.S. by shifting to other media.

The Washington Post reported:

Coca-Cola announced its own ban late on Friday, saying it would pull advertising from all social media sites for 30 days.

“We will take this time to reassess our advertising standards and policies to determine whether revisions are needed internally, and what more we should expect of our social media partners to rid the platforms of hate, violence and inappropriate content,” the company said in a statement.

Even PepsiCo is reportedly joining the boycott.

The Hill reported:

Pepsi reportedly joined the advertising boycott that several companies are taking against Facebook, people close to the matter told Fox Business Sunday.

The second largest food and beverage company in the world is reportedly pulling ads from Facebook through July and August as part of a “global boycott,” sources told Fox Business. Pepsi has not yet made an official announcement on the subject.

Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg—who has lost roughly $7.2 billion as company shares fell—responded to concerns with a strategy to combat misinformation and hate speech.

USA Today reported:

On Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined in a livestream several steps he said the social network will take ahead of the 2020 presidential election to combat hate speech. Among the planned steps: pushing back against voter suppression, boosting standards for hateful content in ads, and labeling content deemed newsworthy.

… “I’m optimistic that we can make progress on public health and racial justice while maintaining our democratic traditions around free expression and voting,” wrote Zuckerberg Friday. “I’m committed to making sure Facebook is a force for good on this journey.”

Three weeks ago, I committed to reviewing our policies ahead of the 2020 elections. That work is ongoing, but today I…

Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Friday, June 26, 2020

Why it’s important: Organizations are facing increasing pressure to do the right thing and push for social justice as well as political changes. PR and marketing pros should also consider their paid social media strategy for July and beyond. If you’re continuing your marketing partnership, be prepared to answer critics.


L’Oreal recently announced that it will stop putting the terms “fair,” “fairness,” “white” and “whitening” on its skincare products.

The move comes after increasing consumer pressure on brands to take a stand against racism as Black Lives Matter protests continue. L’Oreal joins two other companies that will cut the terms from its packaging as well as its PR and marketing campaigns.

CNN Business reported:

On Thursday, Hindustan Unilever, the Indian and Bangladesh unit of Anglo-Dutch firm Unilever (UL), announced that it would “stop using the word ‘Fair” on its “Fair and Lovely” skincare products. Unilever stated its reason was to move toward “a more inclusive vision of beauty.”

Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), also announced on Thursday it has discontinued two lines of skincare products from its brands that include the word “fairness” on its labels for the same reasons. 

As additional organizations evaluate ways they can be more inclusive with their products as well as campaigns, consider the terms and phrases that you might want to replace.


Edelman’s Trust Barometer Special Report: Brand Trust in 2020 revealed that 70% of consumers say trust a brand is more important now than ever before, with “trust” reaching No. 2 on the list of brand attributes that lead to purchase—and consumer loyalty:

Image courtesy of Edelman.

You can read the full report here.


Looking for more insight on how to address the current global crisis and lead your organization into a strong recovery?

Join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board to network and brainstorm with peers, get the latest intelligence and research, and start to strategize for the future of your organization.

Learn more about this exclusive membership here.

Microsoft closes retail locations

The technology company announced a “strategic change”—it’s closing all physical retail stores and focusing on its e-commerce operations instead. The move will save them roughly $450 million before taxes in 2020. Microsoft’s retail store in its Redmond, Washington headquarters, as well as its campus stores in London, New York City and Sydney, will become experience centers.

Microsoft wrote in its press release:

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” said Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Porter. “We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”

… “We deliberately built teams with unique backgrounds and skills that could serve customers from anywhere. The evolution of our workforce ensured we could continue to serve customers of all sizes when they needed us most, working remotely these last months,” said Porter. “Speaking over 120 languages, their diversity reflects the many communities we serve. Our commitment to growing and developing careers from this talent pool is stronger than ever.”

Why it’s important: As organizations across industries grapple with new business models and revenue streams that cut overhead costs and enable them to stay afloat as the COVID-19 crisis continues, many have turned to digital storefronts and e-commerce offerings. As consumer behaviors have shifted to buying online, with many analysts predicting that these behaviors will remain after organizations re-open, consider how you can offer your products and services virtually or digitally.


The COVID-19 crisis has drastically changed the landscape for communicators and PR pros. More than ever before, communicators must gain key skill sets and employ strategic communications and media relations strategies to boost their organizations’ coverage, reputation and overall brand.

Learn what the 315 communicators we surveyed say about what parts of the PR function are more important than ever, how to adjust for COVID-19, and more with our free report revealing insights that can help you persevere during this uncertain time.

Download your copy of the report here.


The UPS Dogs Facebook page, with more than 1.8 million followers, and the UPS Dogs Instagram account, with more than 650,000 followers, are great examples of the power that comes with passionate brand advocates (especially if pets are involved).

Neither social media account are an official company profile, but rather were created by an employee to showcase the relationships between UPS drivers and consumers’ four-legged family members.

Break times are meant for puppy lovers..Pawtucket, RI

Posted by UPS Dogs on Monday, June 29, 2020

Insider reported:

The group, started by 17-year UPS veteran Sean McCarren, features adorable photos of dogs (and sometimes cats) that he and other drivers encounter on their routes.

McCarren got the idea for the page when he realized he had between 50 to 60 photos of dogs on his phone.

“I posted on my regular wall, and everyone was all crazy about it,” he told Insider. “So I decided to just go ahead and make a page.”

If you’re looking to create an online community to boost your brand and tap into audience insights, research existing groups to see if you can instead take part in (or observe) an already thriving online community.

The same goes for getting employees involved: Find the people actively singing your organization’s praises and research how your employees like to interact and share online. Ask whether you should create something new, rather than giving exisiting communities and active individuuals resources and information. Many times, community-led efforts are more successful than those that are brand-led.


We asked how you’re keeping in touch with industry peers and expanding your network while you work from home, and more than 41% of you said you’re networking virtually at webinars and digital conferences. Nearly 27% of you are leaning on industry associations to make new connections, and nearly 18% are turning to LinkedIn groups—the same amount that find contacts through thought leadership articles:


Are you joining the #StopHateForProfit boycott, which starts on Wednesday?

Weigh in below and share your thoughts under the hashtag #DailyScoop.


One Response to “Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Unilever pause social media ads, Microsoft closes retail stores, and cosmetics brands drop ‘whitening’ terms”

    Ronald N. Levy says:

    Could a threat of boycott hit you or any of us? Could almost ANY company be threatened to “do such-and-such or we’ll boycott you”?

    Notice that a boycott causes double injury, (a) loss of business, and (b) “gain” of public disdain or even hatred caused by a slogan like #stophatefulprofitoverpeople” or “stop hateful PPP—pro-pollution profits.”

    Unless you feel that activists couldn’t possibly hit your company hard by threatening a boycott, judge whether now would be a good time to help management understand what you’ll be up against and to prepare.


    When a demand is that you do something to benefit the public—such as donating a lot to help the activist cause, employing more “deserving” job candidates, charging a lot less to “needy” consumers,
    or being “more fair” in deciding who to promote—notice this:

    . The demand seems made to benefit the PUBLIC.

    . Any non-compliance seems to benefit your COMPANY.

    . Who is judging whether you should comply or not? The PUBLIC!

    So whatever the activists are demanding (with shouted slogans like “Hey hey, ho ho,” your CEO “has got to go”) the public has reason to hope that the activists will win and you will lose. If the activists win, the public will seem to benefit but if you win the public won’t.

    That, you can help management to understand, may be PR reality. But skilled PR can be protective.


    Almost for sure, questions will be about “fairness.” Is it only “fair” that your company which is making money on the public should contribute to the activist cause which is to help the public?

    Is it “fair” that deserving job candidates who are poor should get
    more job offers instead of the candidates you’re hiring now “who have had all the advantages?” Is it fair since babies “need and deserve” parental love, that you should provide paid leave for months to parents? Is it fair that you should give consumers and employees even more of a break because the economy now is so difficult?

    Your Successful Answer

    In five ways you can not only win against activists but reduce by a lot the likelihood they will pick you as a target.


    If the activists seem on the public’s side and you seem on the company’s side, you’re in trouble. But if your defense is based strongly on what’s best for the public, activists have incentive to go pick on someone else.

    To employees, their jobs and incomes are almost a blessing. To consumers, the quality and convenience of your products can be a blessing. To your plant communities and the American community, the taxes you pay are a blessing not only to the communities but to the people who live there.

    You are a blessing also to all the worthy causes on your annual donation list, and PR wisdom is that that this should include groups that help women, children, minorities, LGBT people, handicapped people and the poor.

    Money is good but you can do better than good if you get volunteers from your company to join and be active in such groups. You can donate rooms in which to meet, sandwiches and soft drinks for meetings, audio-visual equipment to make meetings better, and computer time that saves time for leaders of the good causes. The goal is not only to look good but BE good and help the public to have lives that are not only good but better because of what you do.


    At a big federal penitentiary in Danbury Connecticut (where I once actively recruited experienced con men to see whether one could be a whiz at getting new business), dozens of prisoners and probably scores would not have been there if they had heeded legal advice not to insist on testifying in their own defense instead of leaving defense to the lawyers and other witnesses.

    In your CEO’s more fortunate circumstances today, bad results may be averted by a good decision not to be the spokesman who deals wth the press. Since your company uses accountants for accounting and engineers for engineering, you may be able to sell the wisdom “don’t be your own doctor even if you’re good at it.” Many Danbury residents would agree.


    Most of the greatest PR executives—the ones who never have enough time for all the accounts that want them—are at the top PR firms where one can earn much more and put up with less than at most companies, countries and associations.

    Genius PR executives like genius lawyers often see right away what most people may never see, and avoid PR blunders that most in PR might find tempting, and have near-total media trust because they NEVER lie and the media know this.

    Try to guide management away from the tempting idea that instead of hiring a great PR firm “with all that overhead,” it’s shrewd to hire just the most-needed star. Problem: Just as your CEO would be less of a star without the team of supporting executives and grunts, the same is true of PR firm stars so it’s usually not thrifty to hire even the greatest quarterback available without the other team members.

    4. PARITY BEGINS AT HOME! Your CEO may be more likely to approve of your proposals if they come not just from you but from a “Crisis PR Committee” of executives from different departments. Plus your life may be easier and the company may be safer if you can get six or eight non-PR executives to take one or two of the PR Daily courses on Crisis PR, and then serve on the company’s Crisis PR Committee which you chair.

    If you get even four or five or six execs from other departments to take the courses and serve on your committee, your proposals may not only have more chance of top management’s approval but may be better proposals because the experts from other departments may make valuable contributions of knowledge.


    Defending is hard because by the time a defense lawyer can present the defendant’s case, the jury may already be mad as hell over all the prosecutor-elicited evidence.

    In a dispute, the side that comes first tends to be believed more. The second side is often believed less by listeners who have already been conditioned to “know better” and have already formed a firm opinion.

    Fortunately, unless you’re already being attacked, you can get to the public first with your case on how you serve the public interest, how many people you help and how importantly you help them. My own favorite is to do a big health project that can protect millions of people. If you help the poor, the LGBTs or other groups, millions of Americans may actually think less of you because of believing “those people get plenty of help already.” But if you have a big project with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center so TV shows nationally your top executives working with the world’s leading doctors, millions of people whose lives you are protecting will buy your products, write congress, and do anything else they can think of because you’ve gotten to the public first.

    To activists, a company known for protecting our lives may not be the best company to attack. Activists can sense that once the public knows an important truth about you—how you are protecting the lives of millions—the public may respond to an activist assault by thinking “Hey Hey, Ho Ho, violent activists gotta GO!”

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