Big brands ‘appearing on sleazy website ads’


Many big brands ads from the likes of British Gas, Marks & Spencer, Cillit Bang and O2 are appearing on inappropriate websites, according to a news report this week.


The Sun newspaper ran a full page editorial this week under the banner of “SUN INVESTIGATES SLEAZE BLUNDER” and asked the question: Why are adverts for these well-known brands appearing on inappropriate websites?

The paper named British Gas, O2, Royal Ascot and Accessorize as "among more than a dozen top names" that have appeared against content on sites "devoted to paedophilia, incest, bestiality and racism".

Adverts for M&S, ASDA and Mini Boden were found on paedophile websites, while British Gas, O2 and Ascot ads had been placed on websites featuring bestiality.

Westway Nissan ads were discovered on sites containing incestuous content, while E45, Dettol, Center Parcs and Cillit Bang were placed on 'cottaging' sites and Accessorize, B&Q and Medecins Sans Frontieres on racist sites.

The Sun article suggests that the ads are being placed by software on the basis of keywords - with Royal Ascot linked to horses, and therefore bestiality, and the 'Bang' in Cillit Bang potentially being the reason for it being picked up by certain sites.

Richard Foan, JICWEBS chairman, said: "This is precisely why JICWEBS, through the work of the Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG), started awarding brand safety seals to companies who declare and independently verify how their processes significantly minimise the chances of ads appearing next to inappropriate content.

"JICWEBS publishes an up to date list of these companies to help support advertisers in choosing a supplier who's compliant. As of today, 41 co's have signed-up and 33 have been verified. JICWEBS' work is based on ISBA's call for advertisers to check with their suppliers that they're compliant."

ISBA has released a guide to help brands stay safe online, which is free to download here.

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