Is your brand associated with homicide, drug busts and violence?

Is your brand associated with homicide, drug busts and violence?

25 March 2022

Let’s hope not, but sometimes it happens with digital marketing. Often, you’ll see brands' advertising placed on less than ideal articles that may actually end up causing them damage.  

For example, you may come across a famous company’s ad on It’s a great website for their ad to be seen on because it’s one of the most visited websites in New Zealand BUT just imagine if this ad was placed on an article about a drug ring, or a convicted killer. Those aren't situations we’ve invented; we see this fairly frequently.

If you are one of our clients, you can rest easy knowing that we’ve got your brand protection covered. If you’re running your ads yourself or you’ve got another agency doing it, you may want to start having this very important conversation ASAP.


Here are a few things you should know, and be doing.

  1. Define what brand safety looks like for you

    Pull the team together into a brainstorming session, and think about all the potential things that may cause your brand harm (beyond the obvious things we’ve already mentioned). If you create children's products, would being unknowingly featured in a story about something terrible happening to a little one reflect poorly on your brand? If you’re a clothing manufacturer, would appearing in a story about unethical trading and fast fashion be a beneficial use of your media spend?

    Brand safety depends on your wants, goals, products, and services, so be intentional about what you protect yourself from online.

  2. Know the tools to use

    Brand safety features are an important tool that every digital marketer should be employed, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are. Perhaps the most important set of tools comes with display advertising,

    Examples of brand safety tools on display advertising include age ratings, with DL-G: offering the safest options for brands, as it’s suitable for all audiences.

    There are also a few sensitive categories that it might make sense to exclude your ad from:
    Adult, derogatory, downloads & file sharing, gambling, suggestive, violence, profanity, drugs, contains content related to the recreational use of legal or illegal drugs, as well as to drug paraphernalia or cultivation, alcohol, tobacco, politics, religion, tragedy: content related to death, disasters, accidents, war, etc, transportation accident, sensitive social issues: Issues that evoke strong, opposing views and spark debate, shocking: content that may be considered shocking or disturbing, such as violent news stories, stunts, or toilet humour.

    Protecting your brand from the above is a simple solution that could save you from brand damage, so be sure to move it high up your priority list. You can also protect your brand on Facebook and Google search ads with in-built tools, although display ads should be your priority - your content is embedded as the user consumes an article or webpage, and is therefore assumed to be part of the wider narrative.

  3. Work with agencies you trust

    Perhaps the most essential step is to work with agencies you trust. If they aren’t already utilizing the above steps, it may be time to have a pretty important conversation.

    As the age-old saying goes “you can’t know what you don’t know” - if you don’t have a background in marketing, how would you know where to start when ensuring brand safety? Your agency should have full knowledge of how to protect and best portray your brand online.


There you go, a quickfire article around how to keep your brand safe online. We hope you've gained valuable insight. If you ever need to have a chat about the next steps for your brand, we'd love to have a chat.




Alice Moore

Co-Founder and Director of Communications
Alice is a content writer by trade and started her marketing-tech career working at a tech export startup. Alice has been responsible for million dollar digital campaign launches and sending email campaigns to global audiences of over 1 million people.