S Korea's CJ pulls ads from YouTube, joins global boycott

CJ CheilJedang has become the first major South Korean company to pull its advertisements from YouTube, joining a slew of other major global brands that have recently cut ties with the video-sharing platform over inappropriate ad placement.

CJ CheilJedang -- Korea's biggest food company under CJ Group -- said Monday that it has partially terminated its partnership with YouTube, as the platform has been automatically attaching a promotional ad for one of its products to offensive videos promoting racial discrimination.

For example, an ad featuring CJ's black ginseng Hanppuri was played before a video that shows a man violently slamming a Korean-made washing machine with a hammer in China to protest Korea's decision to install an American anti-missile defence system here.

Photo: CJ CheilJedang

CJ's Hanppuri ad has reportedly appeared before other videos uploaded by Chinese users that blatantly degrade Koreans and Korean culture.

"We are startled that one of our ads was unknowingly attached to content that is offensive to local citizens," a CJ CheilJedang spokesperson told The Korea Herald. "We have pulled the ad from YouTube as of now and will monitor new developments," he said.

CJ CheilJedang said the additional ad contracts it had signed with YouTube for other products expired at the end of March, and have not been renewed as of now. Given this, CJ currently does not have any ad contracts with YouTube.

Though CJ is the first Korean company to take such action, there have been hundreds of other foreign companies that have already left YouTube over the platform's inappropriate ad placement mechanisms.

More than 250 international companies, including mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon as well as Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Starbucks, L'Oreal and McDonald's, pulled their ads from YouTube last month, complaining their ads were appearing next to extreme and offensive contents, including those related to terrorist groups.

Google's Chief Business Officer Philipp Schindler has issued a formal apology and pledged to make due changes for its business clients who use YouTube as a promotional channel.

"Recently, we had a number of cases where brands' ads appeared on content that was not aligned with their values. For this, we deeply apologise," Schindler said in a company blog post.

"We've been conducting an extensive review of our advertising policies and tools and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that would give brands more control over where their ads appear."