Advertiser action on Beck may spread


Bob Dylan’s paraphrased words may be a small comfort to Fox and Premiere yakker Glenn Beck – he may not need to feel so all alone, as advertisers may soon end up stoning all talkers who take strong stands on controversial issues of the day. But it’s a problem for advertisers, too – if they forego people like Beck, O’Reilly, Olbermann, Limbaugh, Hannity and Maddow, they are often saying no to a network’s biggest draws.

According to the Associated Press, the number of advertisers withdrawing from his Fox News Channel program is now up to 33. Many of them are advertisers that simply bought time with FNC and didn’t specify any particular programs – but are now specifically asking to stay away from Beck. One, Clorox, put the matter in ultimate perspective, saying “”we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts.”

Clorox simply wants to sell bleach, a product used by citizens of every ideological stripe, and it doesn’t want to be in a position where it is forced to defend its financial support for the incendiary comments of anybody, no more than it would want to support indecent programming over the air.

But advertiser withdrawal from outspoken talent come with a price, forcing them to miss out on access to audiences that are not only large, but engaged – meaning the ads are seen or heard by more people and at the same time have more one-on-one impact.

RBR/TVBR observation: Some advertisers will actually benefit from the controversy and association with a certain host; others may have a strong need to keep their distance. And a courageous advertiser that wants access to a certain talker’s audience will state as often as necessary that the talker does not necessarily represent their point of view, but that they do support his First Amendment rights and the right of Americans to hear all points of view – and if they’re really smart, they’ll advertise across the ideological spectrum to prove the point. And that would be really good for business.