Under Armour suspended YouTube ad buys after CNN found its ads among hundreds of brands appearing on extremist channels

Under Armour briefly pulled its advertising from YouTube after learning from CNN that its ads appeared on a white nationalist video channel.

The Baltimore-based athletic apparel brand was among hundreds of companies and organizations whose ads ran on YouTube channels promoting extremist or controversial views, CNN reported late Thursday.


CNN notified Under Armour last week and the company withdrew its advertising while investigating the situation, but as of Friday it resumed ad buys, after working with YouTube to put additional safety measures in place.

"Under Armour was not aware that our ads were running on this YouTube channel," Under Armour spokeswoman Diane Pelkey said in an email. "We have strong values-led guidelines in place and we worked with YouTube to understand how this could have slipped through the guardrails. We take these matters very seriously and temporarily halted our media buy until this was addressed, implementing additional filters and controls to ensure our brand presence on YouTube reflects our values."

CNN said ads from more than 300 companies, including Adidas, Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, Hershey, Hilton, Nordstrom and Netflix, as well as newspapers and government agencies, appeared on channels that promoted white nationalists, Nazis, pedophilia, conspiracy theories and North Korean propaganda. YouTube is owned by Google. Many of the companies told CNN they did not know their ads ran on these channels or how they got there.

Under Armour's ads ran on a channel called "Wife With a Purpose," run by a woman named "Ayla." In one video, she interviewed a former manager of a Maine town who advocated for racial segregation, calling her views "uncomfortable truths." In a live streamed video, Ayla attempted to call a Florida school district in support of a middle school teacher who ran a white nationalist podcast.

YouTube, which decides where ads go, taking into account the advertisers' own parameters, told CNN that it has worked with its advertisers to "make significant changes to how we approach monetization on YouTube with stricter policies, better controls and greater transparency."

YouTube placed restrictions earlier this year on which channels can generate revenue from ads in an effort to prevent inappropriate videos from making money, CNN said.

"When we find that ads mistakenly ran against content that doesn't comply with our policies, we immediately remove those ads," a YouTube spokeswoman told CNN. "We know that even when videos meet our advertiser friendly guidelines, not all videos will be appropriate for all brands. But we are committed to working with our advertisers and getting this right."