Dignity Defense Alert: Unilever and Kraft Heinz Cut Ties with Pornhub and Other Exploiters

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Fighting sexual exploitation—especially the billion-dollar porn empire—can often feel like an uphill battle. That’s why at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation we believe it’s critical to celebrate every success for the movement in order to keep our optimism high that change is indeed possible. Sometimes that can mean recognizing pivotal victories from the past with fresh perspective on how truly impactful they were—impact that may have been underestimated at the time

This month we’re recognizing Unilever and Kraft Heinz as our Dignity Defense Alert winners for a principled move they made a year and half ago. In 2019, both Unilever and Kraft Heinz ran ads for their products on Pornhub: one of the world’s most visited pornography sites that at the time was already known for normalizing themes of racism, incest, and violence against women. But there were also a steadily growing number of revelations coming out in 2019 that Pornhub was hosting depictions of actual crimes of rape, child sex abuse, and sex trafficking.

Thank you @unileverUSA and @kraftheinzco for cutting ties with #Traffickinghub. #DignityDefenseAlert #ShutItDown Click To Tweet

Following backlash from the public and politicians for promoting their products—profiting themselves as well as Pornhub—Unilever quickly cut ties with Pornhub and vowed to never advertise on a pornography website again. Kraft Heinz, however, was slower to act. So the National Center on Sexual Exploitation published an op-ed calling out Heinz for funding sex trafficking and child sex abuse and launched a campaign for the public to contact Kraft Heinz directly. Two days later, on November 6, 2020, Kraft Heinz consumer relations emailed people who complained, stating:

“We are very sorry we disappointed you as that is never our intent with our marketing. Kraft Heinz has pledged not to advertise or promote any of its brands on Pornhub or other similar sites.”

These corporations were among the first to publicly cut ties with Pornhub and we believe they helped trigger a growing recognition that mainstream institutions should not be buttressing the infrastructure of an inherently abusive, exploitative industry. PayPal (our July 2020 Dignity Defense Alert) also ceased processing payments for Pornhub a few weeks after Unilever and Kraft Heinz did so. And in late 2020, after an investigative piece published in the New York Times exposing Pornhub for monetize[ing] child rapes, revenge pornography, spy cam videos of women showering, racist and misogynist content,several major credit companies, Visa, Mastercard and Discover have blocked customers from making purchases on Pornhub.

Mainstream institutions should not be supporting the infrastructure of an inherently abusive, exploitative industry. Corporations like @unileverUSA and @kraftheinzco are saying no to #Traffickinghub. #DignityDefenseAlert Click To Tweet

Why is it important that mainstream corporations cut ties with Pornhub and the entire pornography industry? Because when mainstream corporations provide the infrastructure of an exploitative enterprise like Pornhub, they not only normalize, but quite literally enable and profit from the sexual abuse and harm depicted and produced by the pornography industry. In fact, the co-owners of Pornhub’s parent company, MindGeek admitted during a hearing in front of the Canadian Parliament House of Commons Ethics Committee that 50% of their revenue comes from advertising. Pornhub and other pornography sites are able to continue their abuse because mainstream payment processors, distributors, advertisers, tech companies, and even shipping carriers create the structure upon and by which the porn industry operates.

While it would have been ideal if Unilever and Kraft Heinz never posted ads with Pornhub or that it didn’t take public pressure for them to change—the fact that they did is still incredibly important. Corporations, like people, make mistakes. We must applaud their decision and also recognize the power of public pressure.

.@unileverUSA and @kraftheinzco are corporate leaders in the fight to dismantle #Traffickinghub. #DignityDefenseAlert Click To Tweet

Thank Kraft Heinz and Unilever for prioritizing people over profit by cutting ties with the porn industry… And then join our #ShutItDown campaign to target the advertisers, distributors, and other entities that prop up the infrastructure of Pornhub and its parent-company MindGeek.


About the Dignity Defense Alert

In today’s world, it is easy to focus on those who are doing wrong and spend the entirety of our capacity on those who are abusing, or facilitating exploitation, or failing to prevent harm. There is incredible value in raising awareness and taking action on those issues. We at NCOSE focus much of our time and resources on doing just that. But we believe there is also value in acknowledging and raising awareness regarding the countless individuals and entities who are doing the right thing and fighting the good fight. While not every entity we recognize in the course of this campaign is perfect in this regard, we want to thank those that are taking important steps forward.

We want to celebrate heroes who do what is right, and we want to applaud every milestone that we can in the journey towards a world free from sexual abuse and exploitation. Doing so both recognizes progress and encourages progress by holding up leaders and examples for others to follow, whether that is in the realm of corporations, NGOs, or individual advocates.

Do you have an individual, company, or nonprofit you would like to nominate to be recognized in a Dignity Defense Alert? Learn more and nominate entities here.

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The Numbers

300+

NCOSE leads the Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation with over 300 member organizations.

100+

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has had over 100 policy victories since 2010. Each victory promotes human dignity above exploitation.

93

NCOSE’s activism campaigns and victories have made headlines around the globe. Averaging 93 mentions per week by media outlets and shows such as Today, CNN, The New York Times, BBC News, USA Today, Fox News and more.

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