There is a very interesting debate/discussion going on between David and Jeroen. There is a worldwide action on the msn platforms called live earth about the global warming. The climax of this action will happen on the 7th of July with a gigantic concert in 7 different cities all over the world. Belgium, like every ‘msn countries’ developed a number of pages for this occasion. Like on almost every msn page there is a showcase advertising space. David noticed an inappropriate ad (an anticontextual ad, I should say) and writes:
Is this really a green match….?
I fully follow MSN’s commitment to “green” (and the Live Earth initiative) but like the environmental crisis needs all of us to change small behaviors, I think that small contradictions like this should also be under the eco-friendly ads radar
Jeroen, manager of msn.be, reacted in the comments of David’s blog (I just present some samples of his reaction but you should read the full story)
We are not experts on the businesses of our advertisers, so it would be really hard for us to judge which companies and products should be banned or penalised. For example, did you know that the paper industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world? I happen to know this because I have been in print publishing, but lots of people wouldn’t have guessed. (…) The point is, we cannot be the judge of who is ‘fit’ to be on a green special or even MSN, because we’re not experts. (….) Apart from that I feel that the negative approach doesn’t work. NOT having an ad by someone on a page will never raise any awareness
Can you show your citizenship by refusing some advertisers? Would it be efficient? How can you determine which advertiser is acceptable and which isn’t? Will the people notice your engagement by NOT seing the advertiser on your website? How would the advertiser react if he’s not allow to spend money on your network?
It’s a very interesting debate and I don’t have a definitive answer the the questions above. I don’t think this debate would happen around TV despite the fact that ad placement on TV can sometimes be quiet anticontextual…. and quiet non-ethical.
About advertising and ethics, also read: (Ethic)ette by Gavin Heaton.