Brands bail on Breitbart, but Nissan stays put

One of the biggest disappointments of 2016 has been the rise in prominence of Breitbart News.

That’s in part because Breitbart is appallingly partisan, and personally, I like my news to be as spin-free as possible, no matter which direction it’s spinning. I find MSNBC just as suspect as Fox. Unfortunately, the traffic-grabbing headlines at outlets like Breitbart (and HuffPo, for that matter) have made it increasingly difficult to find reasonably objective news sources.

But more than that, Breitbart has become a source of conspiracy theories, outright falsehoods, and bigoted perspectives that would be outdated and out-of-place in my itty-bitty hometown in Mississippi, much less at a news agency with direct access to the White House.

The outlet’s tacit approval of hate speech directed at women and minorities is so uniformly appalling that many companies have begun to yank their ads from Breitbart–most notably, Kelloggs. But you know which company is staying put?


Yes, the same Nissan that just earned a perfect 100 on the HRC’s 2017 Corporate Equality Index. That very same Nissan has chosen to continue advertising on Breitbart.

Jeannie Whited, a Nissan spokeswoman, said in an email statement that the company places ads “in a variety of sites in order to reach as many consumers as possible.”

“Our advertising is intended to raise awareness of our products with consumers, not to make political commentary,” according to the statement. “Nissan online advertising is behaviorally targeted rather than placed on specific sites.  Ads seen on a particular website are served up to readers based on their own online search patterns.”

That sounds like a convenient defense, right? But as anyone who’s ever built an ad on Google will tell you, companies may not have much control over where their ads appear, but they can definitely determine where their ads don’t appear.

In fact, it’s outrageously easy for advertisers to blacklist certain sites with which they don’t want to be associated–say, sites that sell sex toys or traffic in ridiculous rumors about a child sex ring operated out of a pizza parlor. (FWIW, Breitbart hasn’t really pushed those rumors and in fact has pointed out that they’re baseless.)

Why would Nissan want to be associated with Breitbart’s blatant brand of bigotry? If you’re so inclined, here’s a whole page of media contacts you can ask.