Burger King, Hello Fresh pull ads from Rumble as Russell Brand cancellation intensifies

These fresh cancellings come after The News Movement, a TikTok channel, called the advertisers to tell them their content was appearing alongside Brand's videos.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
As the grip of media and corporations tightens around Russell Brand, a new slew of companies has decided to pull its affiliation with Brand, and the platforms that allow him to speak. Burger King, Asos, The Barbican theater, and HelloFresh have all pulled their ads from streaming platform and YouTube competitor Rumble. YouTube demonetized Brand last week.

These fresh cancellings come after The News Movement, a TikTok channel, called the advertisers to tell them their content was appearing alongside Brand's videos and to ask if they would be pulling it. Many of the brands The News Movement contacted did not offer comment.

"Burger King has paused all advertising on the channel while investigations into the allegations are ongoing," a statement from the company claimed, per INews. INews, it seems had called many of the advertisers they saw on Rumble to inform them that their ads were appearing on the platform, to notify them that the platform allows Brand to speak, and to ask them if they were planning to pull their ads. 

"In multiple telephone conversations with advertisers," INews wrote, "some said they were unaware that their ads were appearing on Rumble, let alone on Mr Brand’s videos, as they are largely placed by third-party ad-buying agencies, and only became aware when approached by i for comment."

The Wedding Shop said "We are on the phone right now to our agency to ascertain which of these networks is showing our ads on Rumble so that we can actively remove ads from the platform… It goes without saying that we would not be happy to be featured on Russell Brand’s videos."

Software company Xero pulled its ads, as did Fiverr, which said "These ads have been removed and our partners and teams have been alerted to ensure this doesn’t happen again. (We have excluded his channel on both YouTube and on Rumble.) We take brand safety and ethical advertising placement seriously, and we do not condone or support any form of violence or misconduct."

Toy maker WowWee also pulled its ads, saying "Rumble is not a platform selected for any of WowWee’s official media campaigns for Fingerlings or any of our other brands,” a spokesperson said. “We have notified our agency of record to look into any anomaly that could have occurred. Together we shall evaluate and expand negative keywords, content and website blacklists to maintain the highest standards of brand safety."

Charitable fundraiser The People's Postcode Lottery also caved, saying "We take our responsibilities as an advertiser extremely seriously. Our players have raised more than £1.1bn for charities and good causes, including many which work to protect the rights of women and girls. The presence of our advertisements on a specific online platform or media channel should never be interpreted as an endorsement of a particular viewpoint or editorial position."

Rumble refused to cancel Brand, despite receiving a letter from the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in the UK Parliament, which demanded to know of Rumble "intends to join YouTube in suspending Mr. Brand’s ability to earn money on the platform."

The Committee, headed by Dame Caroline Dinenage, stated that they were "raising questions with the broadcasters who previously employed Mr. Brand or production companies who employed him, to examine both the culture of the industry in the past and whether that culture still prevails today."

In other words, the message from the government of England was to cancel Brand. Rumble responded with a refusal to do so. Rumble said the letter from said Committee was "extremely disturbing," going on to say that "while Rumble obviously deplores sexual assault, rape, and all serious crimes, and believes that both alleged victims and the accused are entitled to a full and serious investigation, it is vital to note that recent allegations against Russell Brand have nothing to do with content on Rumble’s platform."

"Rumble stands for different values," their statement continued. "We have devoted ourselves to the vital cause of defending a free internet — meaning an internet where no one arbitrarily dictates which ideas can or cannot be heard, or which citizens may or may not be entitled to a platform."

YouTube said its suspension came "following serious allegations against the creator." They went on to say that "If a creator's off-platform behavior harms our users," YouTube said in the statement, "employees or ecosystem, we take action to protect the community."

After NBC contacted 10 of Brand's sponsors, two of them, Vivobarefoot and Sticker Mule, pulled their affiliation with Brand. Black Forest Supplements, however, refused to cave to pressure, saying "we believe that someone is innocent until proven guilty. Additionally, we know that Russell speaks out against Big Pharma, FDA, Media and the War in Ukraine. So he definitely has some powerful enemies."

This all comes after allegations surfaced, solicited by The Times, from women who claim Brand mistreated them in the past. Three of the women were anonymous, while one was an ex-girlfriend. The women stated that they had no plans to come forward with the allegations until they were contacted by The Times, and that it was in large part due to Brand's new success that they chose to speak out.
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