You may not have heard of Simris, but here’s a quick primer – the company makes algae-based omega-3 supplements. But that’s not why we’re writing about it. Today, its founder and CEO, Fredrika Gullfot, announced that the company is ending its paid advertising on both Facebook and Instagram in a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Gullfot pulled no punches in describing why Simris stopped its advertising campaigns on these popular social media platforms.
“The current developments have now rendered it morally impossible for us to continue feeding the same hand that complacently offers its services as the major platform for hate-mongering, promotion of violence, and disinformation,” Gullfot wrote in a LinkedIn post. “The same hand that has also shown to be a major enabler of the racist movement. Through its active refusal to intervene, Facebook has made its stance clear.”
To Gullfot, black lives matter more than inbound sales leads.
Gullfot was referring to a tweet that U.S. President Donald Trump sent early Friday as a response to the protests that spread from Minneapolis to other cities across the country following George Floyd's death while in police custody. The president called the demonstrators "THUGS" and suggested that law enforcement launch deadly force against them. Invoking the words of a racist police chief from the 1960s, the president added, "When the looting starts, the shooting starts."
As many of us have read and observed by now, Twitter hid the tweet behind a disclaimer that the president’s message had "violated" the platform's rules about "glorifying violence." The company also prevented users from liking the tweet or sharing it without comment, and did the same the next day after the same message was reposted on the White House Twitter account.
When the president's staff shared the message on Facebook, however, the social network left it alone. "I know many people are upset that we've left the President's posts up," founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote last weekend, "but our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies."
In the same post, Zuckerberg offered another eye-rolling excuse. “Although the post had a troubling historical reference, we decided to leave it up because the National Guard references meant we read it as a warning about state action, and we think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”
The drastic move Simris took shows far more boldness than what many of America’s largest and most well-known brands have shown so far. Companies that generate billions in revenues annually have the resources to write a check or make a pointed, well-crafted public statement about where they stand on racism. Sure, some stakeholders or customers will pitch a fit and resolve never to buy their products or services again. Nevertheless, the record shows that these companies will endure, whether it’s Starbucks taking on race (or stepping into it) or Sanofi mocking Roseanne Barr for her abhorrent behavior in 2018.
The stakes are much higher for a smaller company that relies on social media tools to break through and score customers. So on the gutsiness scale, the decision Simris made lifts the brands taking stands bar to further heights. “We understand this puts us at a major marketing disadvantage compared to other brands and products out there,” Gullfot concluded. “But we also trust that honesty and respect will win in the long run, and trust our friends and community to share our message.”
Image credit: Clay Banks/Unsplash
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.