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Snack company Mars pulls YouTube ads because of drill rap videos

Confectionary giant Mars is ‘appalled’ that its products were promoted before gangsta rap videos

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 8:11pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 8:19pm

Mars has removed all its advertising from YouTube until executives at the video-sharing website can guarantee that its products will not be shown with drill music – a subgenre of gangsta rap.

The confectionery company insisted it was “unacceptable”.

An ad for Starburst, a Mars product, was said to have appeared before a video featuring drill rap act Moscow17, a member of which was stabbed to death in Camberwell, south London, on Wednesday evening, amid a continuing feud with another group.

Siddique Kamara, 23, who rapped under the pseudonym Incognito, died outside the seven-floor block of flats on a housing estate where he lived with his parents. A postmortem found he died from two stab wounds to the chest.

A man aged 31 and a 16-year-old boy who were found injured at the same spot have been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Two others, aged 18 and 19, who were arrested nearby have been released but are under investigation.

Moscow17’s tracks have had hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube and include lyrics hostile to long-standing rivals Zone 2, from Peckham. Kamara had himself been cleared of the murder of Abdirahman Mohamed, 17, the brother of a Zone 2 member, after an Old Bailey trial earlier this year.

The feud has been publicised through the posting of “diss tracks” on YouTube and other platforms, in which the two rival gangs can be heard taunting each other.

In one track, Moscow17 urged members of Zone 2 to “check the scoreboard” – count up the number of stabbings – and asked: “How you gonna make it even?” In response, Zone 2 posted a song telling their rivals they would “roll up and burst them”.

A Mars spokeswoman, commenting on the withdrawal of advertising from YouTube, said: “It is unacceptable and disappointing to see one of our brands advertised alongside this video content. This clearly breaches our brand safety guidelines and Mars adverts should never run alongside such content. We have taken the action to remove all our online advertising on YouTube and can confirm we are working with Google and our media buying agencies to understand what went wrong. Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube.”

A spokeswoman for YouTube said the company shared “the deep concern” surrounding drill music and said it was working with the Metropolitan police to review videos that may be connected with the stabbing.

The Met made a fresh appeal for information about Kamara’s murder. “We are keeping an open mind about the possible motive for this attack, but at this early stage one line of inquiry is this being gang-related,” said DCI Richard Leonard, who is leading the investigation.

Residents were told to expect a significant increase in police presence in the area.