Tourism Vancouver has pulled its advertising from a popular but controversial ultra-conservative U.S. news website after complaints surfaced online.
The “Uncover Vancouver” banner ad appeared on Sept. 26 in the highly visible top-centre spot of The Drudge Report homepage, which claims more than one million daily visitors.
A screenshot of the advertisement was recently published in a blog posting at the Vancouver food and culture website Scout, which denounced the placement of the ads.
The blog labelled the Drudge Report, founded by conservative commentator Matt Drudge, an “especially poisonous American right-wing fringe website.”
According to Candice Gibson, manager of consumer marketing with Tourism Vancouver, the agency’s campaign was handled by a third-party advertising firm that places ads on a network of websites, which happened to include The Drudge Report.
“We did have the ad removed immediately when we learned of it through Google Alerts,” said Gibson. “It was an extra media outlet that was apparently added to the network we purchased, unbeknownst even to the network rep and our media buying company.”
Darren Johner, manager of digital marketing with Tourism Vancouver, maintains the banner was only on the Drudge Report for a brief time.
“As the campaign had only just launched, the ad was pulled before it was seen by many,” he said.
However, Stephen Beck, partner and creative director with local digital media agency Engine Digital, criticized the approach of buying ads on a network of websites.
“I would say, if anything, it’s sloppy media planning,” he said. “It’s throwing ads into a network and letting them land where they land.”