Opinion

Heinz's 'Food Porn' Ads Fund Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse Pornography

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Posted: Nov 04, 2019 1:18 PM
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Heinz's 'Food Porn' Ads Fund Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse Pornography

Source: M.P. King/Wisconsin State Journal via AP

The global companies Kraft Heinz and Unilever recently came under fire for advertising on Pornhub—a large, sexually exploitive, pornography site that normalizes themes of racism, incest, and violence against women.

Unilever ran an advertisement for its brand the Dollar Shave Club. The ad read: “If you use our bathroom products you won’t have to visit this site as much.”

Heinz ran an even larger campaign by taking over the homepage of the pornography website for an entire day and running a “#FoodPorn” campaign for its Devour frozen meal products.

Why does this matter?

When mainstream companies normalize or partner with the pornography industry they tacitly endorse and fund the sexually exploitive content and messages that the pornography industry produces.

Not only is pornography linked to a myriad of public health harms, including sexual dysfunctions and mental health problems, but it also frequently portrays and encourages sexual violence against women. For example, today on Pornhub’s landing page are sexually graphic videos with themes of “amateur teen” and “step” family members (a.k.a. incest themes) and women being “sexually broken” by men who use their bodies.

  • Research Shows that Pornography Teaches that Women Enjoy Sexual Violence: Analysis of the 50 most popular pornographic videos found that 88% of scenes contained physical violence, and 49% contained verbal aggression. Eighty-seven percent of aggressive acts were perpetrated against women, and 95% of their responses were either neutral or expressions of pleasure. Another study, from 2018, found that 90% of teenage females in videos containing visible aggression displayed pleasure in response to that aggression. 
  • Research Shows that Pornography Is Linked to Increased Sexual Violence: A 2015 meta-analysis of 22 studies from seven countries found that internationally the consumption of pornography was significantly associated with increases in verbal and physical aggression. 

As if that weren’t enough, likely sex-trafficking victims and victims of child sexual abuse have recently been found on this “mainstream” pornography website.

Recently, a pornography company owner and director were charged by the federal government with sex trafficking 22 young women by force, fraud, and coercion. These young women state that the men lied to them by promising that if they made pornography with him it would only be sold overseas in limited quantities when in actuality the videos were uploaded to the Internet and ended up on Pornhub.

These women say they were “manipulated into signing contracts,” sometimes while “under the influence of alcohol” or “while being bullied by men in the hotel rooms where the scenes would take place,” Motherboard reported. They also state that their release agreements had missing terms, and staff members would rush them into signing the paperwork anyway.

Some of the videos posted on Pornhub were viewed more than 40 million times, and the channel featuring the videos became the 20th most popular channel on the site.

Pornhub finally pulled the videos off of the website after the federal charges were filed, though the site continues to eroticize sex trafficking with approximately 1173 current pornographic videos tagged with the keywords “sex trafficking.”

In addition to this, over 50 pornographic videos documenting the sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl who had been missing for a year recently appeared on Pornhub.

The reality is that Pornhub has not (and never will), keep sex trafficking and child sexual abuse images off of its website. By speaking with sex trafficking survivors, and reviewing online forums where sex buyers talk to each other, it’s clear that many prostituted and sex trafficked persons regularly have videos of their sexual exploitation uploaded onto mainstream pornography sites, by sex buyers, pimps, or traffickers.

Is this the kind of industry that mainstream companies should get in bed with?

Luckily, Unilever has now committed to never advertise on Pornhub again. A spokesman said that some content on Pornhub that was revealed to them was “deeply troubling and we will ensure that none of our brands advertise on Pornhub again, or on any other porn site.”

This is a socially responsible response that recognizes the seriousness of their misstep and the harmful nature of the content their advertising decision normalized.

On the other hand, Kraft Heinz is justifying their ad choices.

Kraft Heinz’s director Nigel Dickie has stated that, “The DEVOUR frozen food brand, which is only sold in the US, had a one-day promotion solely as part of the brand’s Super Bowl activation. The brand was explicitly talking about #Foodporn, which has become a cultural phenomenon on Instagram.”

This statement is not merely apathetic to the sexually exploitive themes and content on Pornhub. It is a rationalization and a justification of a business deal that gave money to support a platform profiting off of sex trafficking, child abuse, and themes of incest, racism, and violence against women.

It’s time for Kraft Heinz to stop making excuses and to acknowledge the harms of partnering with the pornography industry. Anything less is an affront to their supposedly “family-friendly” brand and an insult to survivors of sexual abuse and sex trafficking.