COI has pulled all government adverts from user-generated pages on social networking sites after a host of brands stopped advertising on Facebook last week. The COI’s digital agency I-Level has been ordered not to buy space on personal web pages as part of a long-standing government commitment not to advertise near racist or sexist material.
The move follows last week’s decision by Vodafone, First Direct, Halifax, Prudential, Virgin Media and the AA to pull advertising from Facebook after their campaigns appeared alongside pages promoting the far-right British National Party.
COI, which is one of the UK’s largest advertisers, has an annual spend of about £330m. It has used Bebo, which does not sell advertising on personal pages, and has reportedly received written assurances from MySpace that COI ads will not appear on personal pages.
COI chief executive Alan Bishop told the Financial Times: “We don’t want to exclude use of any of the new social media but we do have to have a very clear idea of what the context is going to be like.”