Advertisers Grapple With Edgy Content In News Shows

Skanky content, violent images, and inappropriate dialogue: not every advertiser wants to be associated with this kind of TV content.

That's right: Some marketers actually choose to be in this place, because that's where the viewers are; which could mean customers for their products.

For years the rudest syndication daytime talk show and courtroom drama was written off by mainstream TV advertisers -- except those in the direct-response business.

Incendiary news analysis/commentary now might be another segment. Fox News' Glenn Beck calls the president a racist  -- and advertisers run away because the discourse has taken an ugly turn they don't want to be associated with.

To some, Beck's actions are akin to screaming fire in a crowd theater: someone looking for attention, perhaps to do some damage. To others, it may just be making a strong point.



Apparently Beck's advertisers don't want to completely leave Fox News; according to published reports, those departing Beck's program are still advertising on other Fox News shows.

Traditional TV pressure groups have called on advertisers to get out of content that isn't family-oriented entertainment -- much of it fictional.

Some content, like WWE Entertainment's wrestling programming, dances the fine line of reality and fiction for some viewers, with real-life cartoon characters body-slamming and using loud, intimidating language.

Sometimes the line between new analysis and total fiction can get blurry as well. Beck isn't playing a character here, as far as we can tell. His on-air persona appears pretty much to be his off-air persona.

TV advertisers have their content issues. But what does going over the line mean?  Endorsing illegal acts? Throwing around socially divisive and explosive terms?

This is television, and Beck calls the president a racist. Will there be a rerun? Where is the story arc? The louder the news analysis, the more cartoonish it feels. It doesn't feel attached to much real stuff, though there is a real-life business selling real products behind the scenes.

Are you entertained? Informed? And, more important, after hearing someone call the highest elected official in the land a racist, how  do you feel now about buying that new cell phone, car insurance, or anti-inflammatory pain medication?

6 comments about "Advertisers Grapple With Edgy Content In News Shows".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 26, 2009 at 11:24 a.m.

    Glenn Beck did not simply call Obama a racist. Instead he laid out a carefully-constructed argument that Obama's words and deeds are racist by any definition of that word. You should have mentioned the people behind the advertiser boycott, a group formed by the same Van Jones, a self-avowed Communist, who is Obama's chosen "green czar." Like him or not, Glenn Beck doesn't say anything that he cannot back up with evidence. Why is the honest reporting of facts ignored by the mainstream media labeled "hate speech"?

  2. Rodman Jones from OMNYTEX INC, August 26, 2009 at 2:25 p.m.

    Glenn Beck and others must review the definition of racist. One who is a victim of racism, (or not a part of the majority) cannot be deemed a racist.
    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

  3. Paul Van winkle from FUNCTION, August 26, 2009 at 2:40 p.m.

    Glenn Beck is representative of the last 8 years' zeitgeist, and there remains an idiot following that still reveres such stupidity -- where there's not simply blurring of the lines of reality and fiction -- but a bludgeoning and twisting of facts and contexts for purposes of driving narrow, retro agendas that are completely misrepresented as "carefully-constructed". Intelligence and intellectual scrutiny are rejected in favor of over-emotionalized tarpits and sewage farms. Brilliant! This is where these viewers live and want to live. Let them! It's, after all, a "free" market system we (apparently?) have and want. And if advertisers and brands see opportunities selling their wares in sludge and in gutters with dolt idiots like Beck, et al, why shouldn't they be able to? Bring the inflammatory hate speech! Those markets represent a huge and profitable share. Why? The viewership is already disconnected from reality and their own spinal cords. I can't think of a better dream state for bulk advertisers. Since when did intelligence, insight and cultural value ever mean anything to selling and advertising? Bullshit. Let the good people of the mass idiocy have exactly what they want and deserve. You cannot and will not teach pigs to sing -- it doesn't work and it only irriates the pigs. Give Beck and his asylum mates bigger microphones and more airtime! Why should dissenting opinions by "the mainstream" clutter up these honest, evidence-based, loser-views anyway?

  4. Robert Smith from VNA, August 26, 2009 at 4:25 p.m.

    Glenn Beck is doing pro wrestling shtick -- buffoonish behavior and rants to draw an audience. Makes Fox "News" look like the WWE.

  5. Howie Goldfarb from Blue Star Strategic Marketing, August 26, 2009 at 5:31 p.m.

    I think it more has to do with negativity. Glenn Beck is a hater. And he lies a lot. So association can rub off with a brand. That being said it is so hard to reach a 1-5 million plus people in one shot these days that brands need Fox. Money has no color or political affiliation. Money is God in the U.S.

    In fact a close friend of Rupert Murdoch said if Fox could make more money a liberal channel Murdoch would switch over faster than a heartbeat. He cares about money and how to make hell with what the content is. Otherwise how could he let Family Guy which had slammed him and the GOP in the past air on his station? ratings!

    So I think it has to do more with do brands want to be seen as supporting haters or liars vs whether they are fictional content or lefty or righty.

  6. Patty Ardis from Ardis Media, LLC, August 28, 2009 at 10:05 a.m.

    How is it that many advertisers claim to have no knowledge of the types of programs in which their ads appear?

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