M&S, Asda and O2 appear on paedophile and bestiality websites, according to the Sun

15 Apr 2015  |  Ellen Hammett 
M&S, Asda and O2 appear on paedophile and bestiality websites, according to the Sun

Screenshot from The Sun+

Center Parcs, M&S, O2 and British Gas are just a few of the brands that are being advertised on paedophile, incest and bestiality websites, according to a report in The Sun, raising serious questions for advertisers about brand safety.

Published on Tuesday under the headline: "Sun Investigates Sleaze Blunder: Why are adverts for these brands up on paedo and incest websites?," the exposé names 14 well-known brands as appearing on websites featuring inappropriate or illegal content.

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 Sports & Fitness 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.

ISBA's director of media and advertising, Bob Wootton, has stressed how important it is to advertise on safe platforms and websites to maintain and enhance brand reputation.

"This is a major issue that the advertising industry needs to address, advertising on these vile, repugnant and in some cases illegal sites is not good for business," he said.

"Where your advert is placed and shown is hugely important and companies should not buy ad-space blind. We at ISBA continually strive to stop this happening, giving members thorough and detailed training and guidelines on how to place ads safely."

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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