This week on our Instagram Live we spoke to Harriet Kingaby, Co-Chair of The Conscious Advertising Network (CAN), about industry ethics and what we can do to ensure we’re making the internet a safe place.

CAN has grown substantially since its launch in June 2019 and is now made up of over 80 organisations, including large corporations such as The Bodyshop, agencies, tech providers and civil societies. Harriet noted that this variety that makes up CAN’s partners is important as when discussions about advertising and brand safety take place it tends to be with people within the advertising sphere. Harriet and her co-chair Jake Dubbins, feel it is important to have a wider scope because advertising has a wide impact. 

Harriet went on to describe the makeup of CAN and their six manifestos which are listed below. CAN is a voluntary network, mainly done on evenings and weekends, driven by the passion of people involved. They are made up of steering groups and new action groups; members do the work their spare time. The manifestos were written by organisations and people who work in the spheres that CAN looks at and works with. 

The Six Manifestos:

Informed consent

How they take GDPR as a starting position and go beyond compliance

Fake News and Misinformation

Incredibly topical now because of the way it is moving through the internet, many of them are funded by advertising. Organisations set up sites that are designed to spread salacious content so they incur more advertising revenue. 

Hate Speech

Hate speech should not be inadvertently funded by brands.

Diversity and Inclusion

This includes the makeup of teams right through to buying strategies which ensure that publications that serve diverse communities can continue to be monetised. The Inclusion manifesto was written by a combination of creative equals and passionate individuals who fed into the manifesto.

Ad fraud

Which happens to be the biggest funder of organised crime behind the drug trade. 

Children’s Wellbeing

Children are able to access online content that isn’t appropriate and is funded by advertising, to make sure steps taken by advertisers when their advertising is in danger of being seen by children are robust and goes beyond compliance. 

The Talk Continues

Charlotte our founder went on to speak to Harriet about how brands often don’t know that they are funding hate crime or hate speech. They are completely unaware that they are advertising and getting their money from certain websites that promote hate. This is because they either don’t deal with their budget or they don’t look into these things that are not on their radar.  Brand owners and agencies don’t look at what their actions are often enough or in detail. Things can be done better when rules are implemented into strategies. 

For Harriet, so much work can be done by changing the rules. CAN ask that their manifestos are embedded in all request-for-proposals that go out because they see this as the way things should be done. This is what supply-change-management looks like in advertising.  If you change the default you change the rules. 

Some of CAN’S Highlights Have Been:

  • 62% of members after six months said they had better ethical frameworks than before- this looked different across different organisations. 
  • CAN were able to coordinate the removal of advertising from a website that featured dangerous hate speech, because it was highlighted to the right people – Collective action was effective. 
  • Her co-chair Jake hosted a talk at the UN about the economics of hate-speech. 

Harriet’s advice for companies large and small to make a change in the industry is to have a look at where YOU can make a difference. Take a look at the manifestos on CAN, there is always guidance out there that you can take to those who you are working with to offer advice on how to do things in a better way. 

So What is Next for CAN?

With the unfortunate rise in fake news CAN will be focusing their efforts on the spread of misinformation and how fake news crosses over with hate speech. CAN are also looking for more volunteers, so, if you are interested please get in contact.

SevenSix Agency is proud to be a member of The Conscious Advertising Network and will continue to strive to make the internet a safer place for all.