As most marketers already know, Facebook has a system which automatically bans advertisements if they contain certain blacklisted words. If, for example, you attempt to make an advertisement which uses the word “Boobies” it will get flagged, and never see the light of day. Of course, this is because the term booby is slang for a certain part of the female anatomy. The booby, however, is also the name of a seabird, which lives and hunts around Christmas Island by diving into the water to catch sea life for food.
When the Christmas Island Tourism Association submitted a Facebook ad with the text “Some gorgeous shots here of some juvenile boobies” to attempt to lure bird lovers to the island, it was denied for using that term. The tourism association appealed the ban, so it could be reviewed by an actual person, rather than just the automated system.
According to Facebook, this appeal is the proper way to get these types of ads approved, but unfortunately for Christmas Island, the appeal was denied as well. The Facebook rep reportedly said that it wasn’t the word “booby” that was causing the denial, but the fact that it was used with the word juvenile. Specifically, the rep responded saying the following:
Though it was appealed, in this case the advertiser crossed the threshold we are comfortable with by using language such as “juvenile boobies”. Even if the subject is about birds they are using unacceptable language, and we are therefore not reactivating these ads (see Ad Guidelines Section III: Ads may not position products or services in a sexually suggestive manner).
Facebook reportedly did notify the tourism association that if they remove the word juvenile from the ad copy, the ad would be approved.
This goes to show that when marketing, context is everything. The travel association was clearly attempting to gain attention by using innuendo and a comical play on words, but (at least according to Facebook) they took it too far.
While the travel association is undoubtedly disappointed, Facebook may have actually been doing them a big favor. An ad on Facebook marketing juvenile boobies would have undoubtedly gotten a lot of clicks, but not from the type of people they wanted to visit their island. These clicks would have simply cost them a significant amount of money, while bringing in poor quality traffic to their page.
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