Facebook’s bad week, inside The Athletic, and Red Bull’s reckoning

Hi and welcome back to this week’s Advertising & Media Insider. I’m Lucia Moses, deputy editor here. You can sign up for this newsletter here if you got this forwarded.

A bad week for Facebook

Facebook ceo mark zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. REUTERS/Erin Scott

A bunch of brands including The North Face, Patagonia, and Ben & Jerry’s are grabbing headlines for joining the temporary Facebook ad boycott over its decision to leave standing President Trump’s inflammatory language on the Black Lives Matter protests.

But the reality is more complicated than that. North Face and its ilk are rivals, so there was competitive pressure to join in. The huge ad spenders have yet to join the boycott. And Facebook’s $US70 billion advertising business mostly comes from small businesses that can ill afford to quit Facebook. So boycott activists face an uphill climb.

That said, July is still a few days away, and Facebook obviously considers the boycott threat important enough to issue a letter to lobby its case to top marketers.

Read more here:

Growing pains at The Athletic

The athletic office

When the pandemic put a halt to live sports, we wondered about the sports media startup The Athletic, which shot to over 600,000 subscriptions in just three years. Lauren Johnson talked to 18 current and past employees who raised questions about the startup’s business model beyond the pandemic situation.

For instance:

  • The premise is to provide deep reporting on local sports, but the model often rewards stories about big national figures
  • The focus on hiring big-name journalists over building The Athletic brand itself could make it hard to rival established outlets like ESPN.

Read the full story here: Inside sports media startup The Athletic, where writers describe mounting pressure as subscription growth slows, ad revenue dries up, and live sports come to a halt

Reckoning at Red Bull

Employees at companies from Pinterest to ad agency GMMB are criticising their companies’ response to Black Lives Matter and calling on them to do more to combat systemic racism. The tension is particularly high at companies that have built their businesses on Black culture, like Red Bull, where 300 people signed a letter calling out the company’s “public silence” on the issue.

See more here: More than 300 Red Bull employees signed a letter expressing ‘concern’ about the company’s response to Black Lives Matter and asking for ‘internal action.’ Read their note to executives.

Here are other great reads from advertising, media, and beyond:

Thanks for reading. See you next week.

– Lucia