Meningitis Now is claiming a major victory over its campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease despite Facebook refusing to overturn a ban on the ad appearing on its site.
The charity says the protest over the ban – which has been widely covered in the media – meant it reached ten times the audience it could have expected on Facebook. It claims more than 200,000 people have seen it online, and 9 million people in traditional media.
At the time of the ban, revealed two weeks ago, Meningitis Now claimed Facebook’s decision was putting lives at risk. The initiative comprises a number of executions; the first features an image of a glass being pressed against a rash, with the copy stating: “34 million people still think a rash is the main symptom of meningitis – it’s not. A rash can often be one of the last signs.”
It has now emerged that Facebook outlawed the ad but because it used imagery designed to shock or evoke a negative response from viewers, which was prohibited under its advertising guidelines.
A second ad, featuring an image of a child in a hospital bed, recovering from meningitis, was also banned as it was deemed “scary, gory or sensational” but has now been later reinstated.
After Meningitis Now complained about the first ad being banned, Facebook said it would investigate the decision; but after a phone conversation Facebook bosses confirmed they would not be changing their minds, the charity said.
Mark Hunt, director of communications at the charity, who took part in the call with Facebook, said that the social media giant had contacted Meningitis Now after seeing reports about the ad being banned.
“We had a conversation with them to try to understand the policy that Facebook have and how it impacts on this particular creative,” Hunt told Third Sector.
But he added: “The resulting media storm that followed our challenge significantly outweighed the level of reach we would have expected for the ad and enabled us to deliver additional meningitis information to a much wider group.”
Facebook under fire over meningitis charity ad ban