The Boycotted to Boycott

Unilever were mentioned in the news last week. As the Independent explains (although I first heard it on the BBC Radio 2 news) they are threatening to remove advertising from the online social networking giants, Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. Their reasoning, and this is what caught my ears: these platforms promote division.

Unilever are one of The Big 10 as illustrated on this diagram I discovered last year:

I originally saw this on another Youtube video, but my browser’s history is being evasive; it’s also available here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/27/consumer-brands-owned-ten-companies-graphic_n_1458812.html

Regular readers may also recall that I have previously mentioned Unilever on my blog after I discovered some their showering products I had been given contained the now frowned-upon microbeads; I sent these products back to Unilever with a letter of explanation but heard nothing back, and incidentally I received another batch of the offending stuff from the same relatives this Christmas passed (I don’t want to sound ungrateful by telling them of the issue I have with them; I’m thinking they have a job lot of these since I don’t think they’re still on sale).

Anyway, back to this topic and the reason, as I have decided it, that big companies prefer an undivided global society is, if everyone thinks the same way, they’ll pretty much all behave the same way (aka like sheep), and be more easily controlled and manipulated through such means as advertising, and thus buy the same stuff.

Unilever’s reason, as given by them, is that they don’t want to be seen to be in association with or supporting things we’re supposed to consider to be bad, such as “fake news, racism, sexism, terrorists spreading messages of hate, toxic content directed at children.”

However, from pretty much all of these words, when one refers to the “criticisms” section of Wikipedia’s page about Unilever, one can cry “Hypocrite!” Shall I explain why? Okay…

Fake news. All right, here is a big topic on its own, but in brief, and in the context of this topic, fake news is akin to a society being uneducated and ill-informed, and while fake news (I think) is typically about politics, in a similar fashion to slanderous information about politicians or presidents being spread around, a big brand doesn’t want harmful information about itself being banded about as fact when it doesn’t have a platform for which it can defend itself.

David Icke hit the nail on the head when he said the following during an interview on the Vin Armani Show:

“[The] beneficial part of the internet is now being targeted with suppression/oppression and censorship because they are desperate to stop any alternative narrative to that which would otherwise be the only source of perception that people would have.”

The two isms, racism and sexism, these words about about division. As for sexism, Wikipedia points out the contradicting advertising strategies of Unilever’s Dove and Lynx brands; for Dove it conveys messages of positive self-esteem to women, but for Lynx it suggests that women are instantly drawn to men using these products, and their “campaign thrives on controversy. Using images which the company knows will receive complaints about garners the brand more free publicity and notoriety. A wide variety of these adverts have been banned in countries around the world … Both advertising campaigns make stark comparisons between how women and their sexuality are portrayed in advertising and sales efficiency. Lynx commonly portrays women as hypersexual, flawless and stereotypically attractive who are aroused by men, of all ages and stature, for their use of the Lynx product.”

I might skip over terrorism since you wouldn’t think anyone likes that, but again, it’s another dividing ism, and let alone fake news, I could argue that it is promoted through regular news.

‘Messages of hate’ might be a stretch for my nitpicking, but even putting the sexist division as outlined above to one side some of Unilever’s other practices could be considered hateful; such as “destroying precious habitat in Indonesia’s rainforest”.

And as for toxic content, those microbeads I originally blogged about are just that, albeit not the kind of content Unilever themselves would be referring to. And children… they’re the most easily persuaded sector of society I suppose, so any advertising falling on their eyes or ears is guiding them in a toxic manner, if not the rest of us in ways we might not realise/appreciate.

So when I big brand fears division perhaps we should all wonder why. Is not division akin to diversity?

I think it’s important for all of us to consider which brands we support, especially when it’s the big brands, and how we will be supporting certain practices we don’t agree with just by purchasing certain products.

During my brief research for this topic I came across this Youtube vlog post by Kristen Leo. She talks about a number of companies (I think she actually outlined four rather than three as her title states) that she avoids or effectively boycotts; which is similar to my way of thinking.

There can be other reasons for avoiding certain products, such as how they may be packaged in an un-environmentally friendly manner.

As for accusing the social media platforms for promoting division; yes the platforms allow for that kind of speech, but it’s the people using these platforms in this manner that are choosing to speak this way. They’re choosing a platform to promote their products, so if they don’t want their advertising to appear on certain areas (based on certain topics) (and thus some of that revenue they’re paying potentially and effectively supporting those things) then they need to request not to have their advertising in those areas they don’t like, not have things they don’t agree with removed. Then it is up to those platforms to agree to facilitate that or not.

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