Major brands have pulled their adverts from Rihanna's latest music video 'Bitch Better Have My Money (Explicit)' on Vevo's YouTube channel, apparently unhappy to be associated with the content which features explicit language, violence and nudity.
The seven-minute video shows the popstar abduct and ransom the wife of an accountant who wronged her. The topless woman is threatened, beaten, bound and hung upside down, while Rihanna attempts to extract money from the man, who she eventually chainsaws to death.
It has split viewers - some argue it is empowering, others state it is mindlessly violent. The Guardian’s Rebecca Carroll even argued the racial imagery was responsible for the complaints in a piece entitled 'Rihanna's video puts a black woman in control – no wonder there's a backlash'.
Regardless of the intent or purpose of the music video, travel firm Kuoni and the Co-Op were among the first firms to pull their ads from the Vevo video on YouTube.
On the removal Kuoni said that it did not want the brand appearing next to explicit content. The Co-Op similarly said it did not want to be “associated with” the video.
Commenting on the brands' responses, Justin Taylor, UK managing director of video advertising firm Teads, said: “It’s completely understandable that Kuoni and the Co-operative Group are frustrated after having their advertisements run before Rihanna’s music video.
“It’s only right that when paying for placements, brands have complete control and transparency about the content which surrounds their ads. Explicit or violent content might work for some brands, but they should have a choice about whether or not they run ads alongside it.”
He said that research backs the hypothesis that "where an advert appears can drastically affect how a consumer reacts to a brand," adding "it can devalue a brand’s creative rather than enhance it".
In order to avoid content and brand clashes in video advertising, Taylor suggested "asking for site lists, running verification tools and looking at alternative advertising formats".
Check out the video below. Needless to say, it is NSFW.