I spoke about this briefly in another Friday article, but companies are now so afraid of the fragile, but vocal minority of people being offended by words that, most times, are used in a totally benign way that they take their advertising dollars and run for the hills. It makes you think — does the media now exclusively answer to the government and advertisers, or is it the other way around? When you take into consideration that all three entities have very little backbone, the above question could almost be included in age-old questions that no one really has the answer to.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an article on Thursday about specific words that advertisers run away when considering where they want to place their ads. Words like “dead,” “rape,” and “crash” are among the top 15 words that advertisers have “blacklisted.”
All of the words in the top 15 are words that typically accompany news articles in describing typically horrible events that occur on a daily basis. However, number 11 on the list isn’t a word, but a name — “Trump.”
According to the WSJ:
Marketers have used blacklists for years to sidestep controversy. Airlines avoided articles dealing with airline crashes, for instance. Now those blacklists are becoming more sophisticated, specific and extensive, ad executives said[…]
The ad-blacklisting threatens to hit publications’ revenue and is creating incentives to produce more lifestyle-oriented coverage that is less controversial than hard news. Some news organizations are investing in technologies meant to gauge the way news stories make readers feel in the hopes of persuading advertisers that there are options for ad placement other than blacklisting.
Social engineering, anyone?
Integral Ad Science Inc., a firm that ensures ads run in content deemed safe for advertisers, said that of the 2,637 advertisers running campaigns with it in June, 1,085 brands blocked the word “shooting,” 314 blocked “ISIS” and 207 blocked “Russia.” Almost 560 advertisers blocked “Trump,” while 83 blocked “Obama.”
Advertisers, politicians/government, and the media have ruined the English language for everybody by taking it upon themselves to decide for the rest of us what words are or aren’t acceptable.
ALL WORDS ARE ACCEPTABLE, it just depends on the context in which you use them.
It’s not a matter of forcing businesses to advertise on content they don’t want to advertise with. But, these companies severely limit their reach to make money off of their ads, especially since we live in a media-dominated society as we do today.
At the end of the day, it’s a company’s right to determine where their ads appear. But, when the activism of the self-righteous takes precedence over what the majority of people either believe isn’t a big deal or don’t think is serious enough to warrant censorship, we might need to begin thinking about taking back the English language from those that would wish to cleanse it.