In television, perception is everything -- even if reality says something else.
If you don't believe the President was born in this country, you probably are not about to change your mind with the release of a long-form birth certificate. You know, probably the CIA or someone else had a hand in it. Right?
David Letterman kind of thinks Donald Trump may be a racist -- and so may not want him on his show. Perception or reality? Money is all that matters. Groupon, the big digital couponing site, has decided it doesn't want to advertise on the "Celebrity Apprentice" website any longer. Groupon say s its consumers feel uncomfortable with some of Trump's verbal blurbs challenging President Obama's birthplace and education: "Enough consumers have contacted us to warrant ensuring that we don't place ads on 'The Apprentice' homepage in the future. It's the same reason we don't run deals on guns or abortion...this isn't a political statement, it's avoiding intentionally upsetting a segment of our customers."
Business is business -- and that goes for advertising. Mind you, Groupon doesn't advertise on the more lucrative TV platform of "Celebrity Apprentice," although it does buy ads elsewhere on NBC. But could other marketing moves, made so that consumers don't get upset, follow?
Now, think about what will happen in a few weeks. National advertisers are about to spend billions on buying TV advertising time for the coming season.
If Trump continues to pursue his efforts in figuring out how Obama received some higher levels of education, some advertisers might decide to bow out or cut back their spending on the show. Better still, what happens to those bigger, more lucrative branded entertainment deals the show pioneered and still depends on?
Trump may decide to run for President after the "Celebrity Apprentice" May finale. Timing is important because Trump's potential candidacy has NBC executives mulling the possibility of providing equal time for other candidates. But if "Apprentice" is off the air in the fall, and gets a late March start in 2012, that would offer enough time for Trump to stump.
It could also give TV advertisers time to process Trump and "Apprentice" and his comments.
Right now, those marketers could be in a vague state. This kind of indecision in a growing media world full of ever-increasing options isn't good. TV marketers want clarity in their media decisions. Many are muddled and without good marketplace intelligence -- looking like apprentices.