Droga5 pulls back on claim that VB handled its own Facebook page

Ad agency Droga5 has clarified its statement that its former client VB directly manages its own Facebook page, after the ad standards watchdog found the brand responsible for abusive comments on the page left by consumers.

After VB’s parent company Foster’s told the Advertising Standards Board that comments had been left up as a mistake by the agency, attention shifted to creative agency Droga5, which was removed from the roster earlier in the year.

But Droga5 initially told Mumbrella in a statement: “The VB Facebook was always, and still is, handled by the client directly.

Foster’s meanwhile told Mumbrella in a statement: “The response to the ASB includes an explanation of the process involved in monitoring Facebook, however CUB will not name the agency concerned as we believe the issue is CUB’s responsibility.”

Droga5 has now issued a further statement to Mumbrella saying that it did not mean to claim the client handled the page directly. It said: “The social media management of this campaign was not in Droga5’s remit and was handled by another agency on the client’s roster.”

Asked whether this meant the agency was withdrawing its claim that it was handled by Foster’s internally, the Droga5 spokeswoman said: “I was saying that the client, or in this particular case the external agency they appointed, was handling the Facebook management , not Droga5.”

Mumbrella understands that the social media agency behind the VB page is in fact STW’s Pulse Communications. The agency told Mumbrella that none of Pulse’s spokespeople were in a position to comment.


  1. Darren Woolley
    7 Aug 12
    2:41 pm

  2. You can argue if it is the agency’s responsibility or the marketer, but ultimately the point being made here is about defining social media.

    The Advertising Standards Board has set a precedent. Basically they have placed a capital M on the term social Media to remind us all that the commercial use of social networks is a media?

    After all, consumers participate in social networks, but when this is used for commercial purposes, it become a media, and should not all media and all publishers of media be held to the regulatory and legal standards expected of a media publisher?

  3. Graham Lang
    7 Aug 12
    3:13 pm

  4. Tim you should dedicate a weekly social “train wreck” column
    Memo: VB, Brands don’t work m-f 9-5 either does social media…Outsource it to specialist social monitoring, moderating and engagement centre out of hours here http://www.onesmallplanet .com.au

  5. N Reedos
    7 Aug 12
    3:39 pm

  6. VB is one of my favourite bevos. I’d happily drink them to monitor socialy guideline.


  7. take responsibility
    7 Aug 12
    3:52 pm

  8. 100% right Darren. If you write it. If you publish it. You take responsibility for it. End of story.

  9. Lucio Ribeiro
    7 Aug 12
    4:33 pm

  10. Darren is right. Once you have utilised a channel under commercial perspective you need to accept the good with the bad.
    When it comes to Facebook, brands own their own little channel and become publishers with all power to moderate, delete or facilitate content. As facilitator and guardians of the channel they also hold the ability to balance and regulate the messages.

  11. clive burcham
    7 Aug 12
    5:25 pm

  12. Go Graham Lang!!

    Lucio, Darren is pretty much spot on.

    HOWEVER, VB didn’t “publish” the comment. The engaged FB user is the publisher. If VB doesn’t moderate…..then an argument could be had on that point.

    Brands are increasing becoming “publishers”….and in doing so, will learn most of the hard lessons Rupert etc did.

  13. Darren Woolley
    7 Aug 12
    6:20 pm

  14. Clive, I think the precedent is fairly clear here Clive. If you control or manage the content then you are responsible for the content. Facebook allows the page owner to remove comments at their discretion. To argue that that the manager did not publish (as in personally activate the submit button) but it was the Facebook user who actually published the offending comment or content is a mute point. In the case of defamatory publication, both the writer and publisher are held accountable. It surely should be no different for other regulatory or legal requirements.

  15. John Grono
    7 Aug 12
    6:39 pm

  16. Clive, are you 100% sure? If I write a letter to the SMH and it appears on the SMH Letters to the Editor page, aren’t SMH still the publisher.

    I realise the key difference is that in the physical medium not all comments/letters are published and those that are are often edited, whereas in the online medium it tends to be “you write – we publish” along with “don’t you DARE edit a word I wrote” (or correct my poor spelling and grammar).

    However, if the ‘publishers’ chooses to have unmoderated comments then isn’t that acceptance that anything goes as far as public comment is concerned?

  17. Al
    7 Aug 12
    7:04 pm

  18. I didn’t hear you Darren – yours was a mute point

  19. Cognitively Dissonant
    8 Aug 12
    7:30 am

  20. VB may not technically be ‘publishing’ a comment on their Facebook page but they are definitely ‘hosting’ that comment by enabling it to appear and not choosing to moderate it once it has appeared.

    I wonder if we can use the metaphor of the party? VB is hosting a party, they put out an invitation on Facebook to join that party. If you host a party like that and don’t hire security for the front door don’t be surprised if your party ends up on the news for the wrong reasons.

  21. Glenn Mabbott
    8 Aug 12
    12:17 pm

  22. The laws regarding libel and liability when publishing are anachronistic. They were written during the steam age when every word was individually set in hot metal and printed by the publisher. So the publisher could not claim they didn’t have control, as Cognitively Dissonant says they were the party host and employed editors as bouncers.

    The law has failed to keep up with the Internet’s democratisation of media, the dissemination comment as news, and social media as one big unmoderated town square.

    Fom outing Kings Cross murder suspects to Wikileaks, the legislation can’t keep up with where and how the public now communicates and shares opinion.

    Like it or not Ad agencies will still have to comply with irrelevant laws until the sheer volume of online misdemeanors make the laws impossible to police.

  23. Glenn Mabbott
    8 Aug 12
    12:20 pm

  24. Or should I say Darren, the exponential potential of public input to online conversations makes the current laws about advertisers power to control what they publish moot.