Target, MTV blocked ads from appearing near BLM, George Floyd content

Both corporations removed digital ads from news stories mentioning social justice movements

Hundreds of guests shopped for Black Friday doorbuster deals at Target at the Black Friday At Target Dadeland South In Miami. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for Target)

While online ads are the best marketing tool in the digital age, recently, companies have moved to separate their brands from current events.

Retail giant Target and multi-media company MTV both elected to remove their ads from news reports covering the Black Lives Matter movement, George Floyd’s murder and other timely issues.

READ MORE: Target deletes ‘2020 is our year’ tweet after stores are burned during protests

According to the Wall Street Journal both corporations have “blocklists” of terms, names, and phrases not to be published with banner ads. For Target, the list includes articles covering the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the word “protest.”

MTV, owned by Viacom, has its own block list, requesting their ads not be placed in stories featuring the terms Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Aubery [sic], George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, protests, racism, hate, and policing, according to the Wall Street Journal.

While blocklists are standard in advertising, The Wall Street Journal reports a surge in 2020, beginning with COVID-19 and extending into the national Black Lives Matter protests. The blocks could, however, penalize news outlets for covering important issues with a loss of ad revenue.

“It’s defunding our journalism at a time when it’s imperative for us to be the front lines doing this kind of work,” Paul Wallace, Vice Media’s vice president for global revenue products and services told WSJ.

READ MORE: Black Lives Matter protests have not caused increase in COVID-19 cases: research

Both companies claim intentional yet non-harmful explanations for the respective blocklists.

According to the Journal, a Target spokesman states the retailer’s ad-blocking “does not discount the importance of reporting on topics like Black Lives Matter or the murder of George Floyd.”

They continue, “It’s intended to acknowledge that the person consuming that content may not be receptive to a marketing message from a mass retailer like Target at that time.”

MTV claims it only specified the ads be blocked for a lighthearted program titled Revenge Prank.

“Due to the comedic nature of the show…we didn’t want to be insensitive by placing ads for it next to important and serious topics, such as Black Lives Matter,” an MTV spokesperson told WSJ.

They continue, “This is standard practice we use with our media agency to ensure that our ads don’t come across as tone-deaf or disrespectful.”

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