David Caton, executive director, Florida Family Association
A pro-family organization blew the whistle on a group of pornographic websites that tricked companies into inadvertently advertising on sexually explicit pages.
The Florida Family Association, a non-profit organization whose website declares it works to improve and protect the nation’s moral environment, discovered the scam and immediately contacted the major American companies who were unaware their advertising dollars were supporting pornography.
The Florida Family Association reports the companies were both shocked and grateful for the alert.
“This situation is most inappropriate and a total misrepresentation of the Radisson brand,” responded Fredrik Korallus, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Radisson Hotels, according to FFA. “I apologize for this occurrence. Radisson is committed to responsible advertising and did not give permission to be on this site. As a matter of fact, we have a strict policy and guidelines to avoid such mishaps.”
Besides being an embarrassment to companies fooled by the scam, however, a greater danger lurks in pornographic sites that deceptively siphon advertising dollars, claims the FFA.
“America’s moral environment,” said the FFA in a statement, “cannot afford to have the Internet porn industry move from a subscriber-based medium to hosting their smut online for free with the support of advertising dollars.”
According to an FFA statement, an official with one of the companies explained exactly how the scam was perpetrated.
The companies contracted with marketing vendors to purchase advertising, including Internet banner ads, on a variety of websites. And even though many of the companies and vendors have contract language that prohibits advertising on porn sites, the sex traders found a way around content filters by falsely classifying or describing their website content.
The porn sites reportedly slipped onto the vendors’ site lists with non-entertainment, scientific descriptions that masked their true content.
After the FFA alerted the major companies – including Allstate, Bank of America, Toshiba, Radisson Hotels, Philips Norelco, JC Penney, University of Phoenix and others – the advertisements began disappearing.
“The particular web pages that Florida Family Association reported to these companies have been removed by the porn company,” announced the FFA in a statement released today. “Advertisements for the companies referenced above and other mainstream companies have not appeared on the subject porn sites during the past five days.”
The FFA also received a number of apologetic letters from the companies who say they were duped and pledged steps to being more vigilant.
“We were absolutely unaware that our advertising was appearing on that very offensive site,” wrote Nancy Ryan, national media director Allstate Insurance Company, according to FFA. “We assure you that we have taken our Allstate advertising banners off of this site and have cancelled the remainder of our 2008 advertising activity from the network that happens to represent that site.”
FFA reported that Radisson Hotels further stated, “In an effort to ensure that this type of issue does not occur again, we have decided to remove all photo sharing sites from our campaigns. We routinely work with our vendors to try to prevent these types of issues from occurring and will continue to do so.”