Advertisers Boycott Beck

NEW YORK (AP) -- Glenn Beck returns to Fox News Channel on Monday after a vacation with fewer companies willing to advertise on his show than when he left, part of the fallout from calling President Barack Obama a racist.

A total of 33 Fox advertisers, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., CVS Caremark, Clorox and Sprint, directed that their commercials not air on Beck's show, according to the companies and ColorofChange.org, a group that promotes political action among blacks and launched a campaign to get advertisers to abandon him. That's more than a dozen more than were identified a week ago.

While it's unclear what effect, if any, this will ultimately have on Fox and Beck, it is already making advertisers skittish about hawking their wares within the most opinionated cable TV shows.

The Clorox Co., a former Beck advertiser, now says that "we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts." The maker of bleach and household cleaners said in a statement that it has decided not to advertise on political talk shows.

The shows present a dilemma for advertisers, who usually like a "safe" environment for their messages. The Olbermanns, Hannitys, O'Reillys, Maddows and Becks of the TV world are more likely to say something that will anger a viewer, who might take it out on sponsors.

They also host the most-watched programs on their networks.

"This is a good illustration of that conundrum," said Rich Hallabran, spokesman for UPS Stores, which he said has temporarily halted buying ads on Fox News Channel as a whole.

Beck can bring the eyeballs. With the health care debate raising political temperatures, his show had its biggest week ever right before his vacation, averaging 2.4 million viewers each day, according to Nielsen Media Research.

He was actually on another Fox show July 28 when he referred to Obama as a racist with "a deep-seated hatred for white people." The network immediately distanced itself from Beck's statement, but Beck didn't. He used his radio show the next day to explain why he believed that. He would not comment for this article, spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said.

ColorofChange.org quickly targeted companies whose ads had appeared during Beck's show, telling them what he had said and seeking a commitment to drop him. The goal is to make Beck a liability, said James Rucker, the organization's executive director.

"They have a toxic asset," Rucker said. "They can either clean it up or get rid of it."

It's not immediately clear how many of the companies actually knew they were advertising on Beck's show. Sometimes commercial time is chosen for a specific show, but often it is bought on a rotation basis, meaning the network sprinkles the ads throughout the day on its own schedule. Sometimes ads appear by mistake; Best Buy said it bought commercial time for earlier in the day, and one of its ads unexpectedly appeared in Beck's show.

One company, CVS Caremark, said it advertises on Fox but hadn't said anything about Beck. Now it has told its advertising agency to inform Fox that it wanted no commercials on Beck.

"We support vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans, but we expect it to be informed, inclusive and respectful," said spokeswoman Carolyn Castel.

Besides the unpredictability of the opinionated cable hosts, the rapid pace of today's wired world complicates decisions on where to place ads, said Kathleen Dunleavy, a spokeswoman for Sprint. She said she was surprised at how fast the Beck issue spread across social media outlets and how quickly advertiser names were attached to it.

UPS' Hallabran said the decision to pull commercials "should not be interpreted as we are permanently withdrawing our advertising from Fox." He said the company wants to reach viewers with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Except for UPS Stores, there's no evidence that any advertisers who say they don't want to be on Beck's show are leaving Fox. Network spokeswoman Irena Briganti said the companies have simply requested the ads be moved elsewhere and that Fox hasn't lost any revenue.

She wouldn't say whether Fox was benefiting from any anti-anti-Beck backlash, with companies looking to support him. Some Beck supporters have urged fans to express their displeasure at companies for abandoning their man.

Beck supporters have suggested that retaliation might have something to do with ColorofChange.org's campaign. One of the group's founders, Van Jones, now works in the Obama administration and has been criticized by Beck. But Rucker said Jones has nothing to do with ColorofChange.org now and didn't even know about the campaign before it started.

Beck's strong ratings - even at 5 p.m. EDT he often outdraws whatever CNN and MSNBC show in prime-time - make it unlikely Beck is going anywhere even as the list of advertisers avoiding him approaches three dozen.

But it could mean advertising time becomes cheaper on his show than such a large audience would normally command. Some of his show's advertisers last week included a male enhancement pill, a law firm looking to sue on behalf of asbestos victims, a company selling medical supplies to diabetics and a water filter company.

Rucker said ColorofChange.org has contacted about 60 companies regarding Beck, and is heartened by the response.

"It's causing a certain conversation around Beck, which I think is important," he said.


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  • by Obama Snake Oil Co on Sep 1, 2009 at 01:27 PM
    I watched Beck for the first time yesterday to see what the huff was all about. He didn't seem to have problem with advertisers. Apparently, all this does is allow other advertisers to slip in positions they couldn't before. Trust me, he had not problems. Advertisers want this publicity since millions, tune into see the show. Beck exposed facts that I checked out on the web. He was right, all were facts and not made up as some of you say here. See for yourself and research it yourself. It really is scary what Obama is doing to this country.
  • by WHAT??? Location: Jacksonville on Aug 30, 2009 at 01:57 PM
    As a consumer...I am less likely to purchase products from a company that hinders freedom of speech. We have a RIGHT to voice our opinions and thoughts. Our men and women have been fighting for that for years. To me all this political correctness is getting out of control. We all have minds, thoughts and opinions. There are always going to be others that do not agree with us....that is life!! Would we want everyone to agree all the time? Where would new ideas come from? Where would progess come from? In my opinon to boycott and pull ads from one show or another just because you thought what the host said was too much is a unbelievable. I think that this is terrible regardless of the show or the host or even the station! It is a RIGHT for us to voice our opinions, beliefs and concerns. Is it possible that money could change that and leave us without that right?
  • by LOL! Location: Greenville on Aug 30, 2009 at 10:55 AM
    usa: Do you understand irony? Evidently not. You do a remarkable cheer in your own post. Allow me to paraphrase for you; GO TEAM GO!!! lol.
  • by Wolfgang Location: Chocowinity,NC on Aug 30, 2009 at 08:31 AM
    Jeff you forgot to mention what really got us out of the last Great Depression. It was called World War 2. Remember the war against Germany and Japan from 1941-1945. War helps the economy, thats what got us out of the last Great Depression. I hope Obama does not spark WW3. I already did my time in the US Army.
  • by usa Location: home on Aug 30, 2009 at 08:04 AM
    rufus you are beating a dead log when you talk to lavon, just a cheerleader knows nothing meaningful, i will not post back anymore to his post , put him on ignore !!!! GO BECK AND HANNITY ,2010-2012 A REAL CHANGE IS COMING !!!
  • by sd Location: winterville on Aug 29, 2009 at 10:26 AM
    This is still America, a democracy - for now. So I say, VOICE your opinions. Fight what you think is wrong. IT IS THE AMERICAN WAY!! If you don't, you can bet this country will become socialist before you ever realize it! Don't you see how these "town meetings" have slowed down the health care reform push? WE HAVE TO STAND UP FOR OURSELVES!!! Silence is agreement! And I love FOX!!! At least we get to hear something besides what all of the other liberal media outlets report. THE TRUTH!
  • by Jeff Location: New Bern on Aug 28, 2009 at 08:52 PM
    Obama is using the same tactics that got us OUT of the last Great Depression to avoid the next one. Yes, it's costing a ton of money. And no, we're not out of the woods. But things could be MUCH worse than they are. I fully expected them to be, honestly. Was no one listening when BOTH candidates said there was no short term solution? That it would take AT LEAST two years to get things turned around, and maybe 10 before we'd be on sound footing again? Has everyone forgetten that? Apparently. Last years news is old news, even if it made sense. Our country has no patience. Talk about instant gratification in uncertain times. We should count our blessings that things are as good as they are. And we can thank our idiot of a President for making sure that things aren't worse than they are. We are blessed to have him. Even the people that hate his guts. They just don't know it. Hatred blinds people that way. Always has.
  • by chris on Aug 28, 2009 at 07:32 PM
    I guess Lavon must have went to work or maybe he's clubbing.
  • by TJ Location: ENC on Aug 28, 2009 at 07:06 PM
    All I can see here is that Lavon doesn't have a job and if he does he certainly has proven here to be one of the least productive employees on the payroll with all the time spent here bickering.
  • by Gator Location: NC on Aug 28, 2009 at 06:34 PM
    I really don't think he democrats understand our government, when did the country go into the tank? When the democrats took over the house and senate. By the standards that the democrats say, we republicans do not give away money. So why would we give money to people who could not pay it back. The democrat way is to give money away to people who do not work. The democrats created government housing that turned into crack houses. The democrats created food stamps that turned into laundry schemes. The democrats created welfare that turned mothers into birthing machines. The democrats allowed the terrorist to have a second shot at the world trade center. What else can they not realize is not there mistakes. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Democrats really look into who went to war first and who allowed these conflicts to fester.
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