British backpack inventor said his Facebook ads banned in Hong Kong for using the word "revolutionary"

Author: Ian Young, South China Morning Post, Published on: 6 September 2019

“He tried to sell ‘revolutionary’ backpacks in Hong Kong. Facebook’s response left him ‘gobsmacked’”, 5 September 2019

British inventor David Wolffe thought he had the perfect slogan for his new backpack… He called it the “revolutionary” backpack, a wordplay on the unique selling point, and video ads began running on Facebook around the world. But then he and his social media team tried to advertise the “Wolffepack” in Hong Kong, in Chinese – and the result left him “gobsmacked”.

The ad was instantly banned by Facebook. The problem, said Wolffe and his social media consultant Richard Buckton, was the world “revolutionary” and its political connotations, spuriously detected by Facebook’s algorithms…

Facebook denies that the wording was the problem. “This ad was rejected during the review process due to technical issues unrelated to the advertising copy,” said a spokesman. “The technical issues were subsequently resolved and the ad was approved.”

But neither Wolffe nor Buckton buy the explanation. They point out that ads dubbing the Wolffepack “revolutionary” had run without problem in an identical format in about 20 different Facebook markets around the world, in numerous languages

Only in Hong Kong did the ad get banned – twice. Both times, removing one word, “revolutionary”, resulted in immediate approval…

In the meantime, Buckton appealed against the ban on the original slogan and it was quickly rescinded by Facebook. But then, about three weeks later, the ad was banned again in Hong Kong… The “revolutionary” slogan was re-approved by Facebook a second time, but Wolffe’s team decided to stop advertising the bag specifically to Hong Kong buyers about a year ago…

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Related companies: Facebook