- Danish biopharma Novo Nordisk pulled at least one ad appearing on the controversial website Breitbart this week after social media users alerted the company that one of its products was being marketed alongside an article about how women are "screwing up the internet for men."
- On Nov. 20, Twitter user @frankthefink tweeted to Novo Nordisk and @slpng_giants – an account that, by its own description, tries to prevent racist websites from receiving marketing revenue – asking if the company knew that an ad for its fast-acting insulin NovoLog was featured on Breitbart.
- The drugmaker responded with a tweet thanking the account for flagging the ad and said it would "make sure to take care of it." Two days later, the company confirmed via Twitter that the ad had been removed.
Novo Nordisk has invested heavily in marketing in recent years. In 2015, for instance, the company increased U.S. ad spending by 195% to $261 million, according to a report from marketing intelligence magazine Advertising Age. As such, the drugmaker ranked as the fastest growing ad spender across the pharmaceutical industry and the fourth fastest growing among 200 leading national advertisers.
Still, the company was less than keen on having its products advertised on Breitbart, which some critics say is a platform for white supremacy.
The website’s chairman Steve Bannon, who president-elect Donald Trump recently tapped as his chief strategist, has also faced backlash for his own comments, as well as articles published on Breitbart under his leadership. Bannon went on temporary leave from Breitbart in August.
Cereal company Kellogg, insurance provider Allstate and the San Diego Zoo, among other organizations, have also tweeted or provided statements about their intention to pull ads displayed on the website.
A common theme among the companies that issued such responses was a lack of awareness that their ads were even appearing on Breitbart, a testament to the tricky landscape of online marketing. Companies aren't always privy to where their ads appear, instead they purchase a certain amount of space or type of ad from an ad network that will place the ads on a type of site, like a "news website."
Novo Nordisk did not release any official statement regarding the placement and subsequent removal of its NovoLog ad on Breitbart. As of Nov. 30, the ad was not on the originally flagged article page.