Advertisers May Leave Controversial Shows, But Not Necessarily Due To The Content

Not everyone gets it when it comes to advertisers and controversial content in TV shows.

Advertisers aren't linear about a full season's worth of a particular show. Just because you viewed a Ford commercial in, say, "Desperate Housewives" one week doesn't mean you are necessarily going to see it the next.

But the press still believes that an "advertiser" pulling out of a show means it is always because of content. This is not to say that some advertisers don’t indeed drop out because of content and viewer reaction -- as in the case of Rush Limbaugh's radio show.

With ABC's new show "GCB," this shouldn't be surprising for viewers or advertisers. Some controversy started months ago due to the title of the show’s original inspiration -- the book "Good Christian Bitches."

Give some credit to Kraft (at least according to one statement received by The Hollywood Reporter) whose initial intent was to advertise Philadelphia Cream Cheese only in the show’s first episode but not succeeding ones. Kraft said it made a media buy on ABC for "GCB" as part of multi-network deal.



Why? Because networks spend a lot of money launching a series’ first episode. That means if the show is only mediocre, as many are, it will get a relatively high number of initial viewers and then decline.

To be fair, TMZ reported something totally different than The Hollywood Reporter -- that Kraft was pulling its advertising after the first episode because of viewer comments and putting its advertising in other ABC shows. Hmmm...

While you ponder this, consider something else: For decades, many big TV advertisers got pretty specific scripts and content beforehand about what episodes they would be in.

Additionally, because of a specific marketing push, a big TV advertiser might buy, for example, only four episodes of a series -- and then put its money elsewhere. All to say, within a given year, some big marketers can shift money around. When this happens in the midst of a controversial show, minds can go racing.

There are, of course, specific cases where advertisers make moves considering content or viewer reaction. Lowe's seemed to suggest both motives when it left TLC's "American Muslim.” And then there is "post-game" reaction to content itself, as in the case of some 40 advertisers that reacted to Limbaugh's "slut" remark about a Georgetown University law student.

Limbaugh said this won't be an issue because his radio show can draw from some "18,000 advertisers." And as TV Watch has noted previously, TV and other media can always weather content storms if viewership continues strong.

We get it. Advertisers don't want to give away any strategy. But we know that what really goes on with sponsors isn't always apparent.





2 comments about "Advertisers May Leave Controversial Shows, But Not Necessarily Due To The Content ".
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  1. T Y from Freelance Producer / DP, March 12, 2012 at 8:26 a.m.

    I doubt that I will ever watch "GCB" but I can't wait to hear Limbaugh support ABC's right to produce the show. You'd think he would be supportive of "American Muslim" also since it wasn't "pro-muslim" it was merely "entertainment."

  2. Michael Cornette from Bonten Media, March 12, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.


    OK, we get it. You hate Rush.

    However, for someone who recently has expressed such deep seeded hate for Rush Limbaugh, and dare I say, all things conservative, am I to understand from your this post you are going to listen to him in hopes of of hearing his response to the ABC show, "GCB?"

    As someone who does listen to Limbaugh, I would not expect him to say the "American Muslin" program should not have ever been produced. By all means , let it air and see if it finds an audience. If it fails miserably yet the network keeps it on, one might question exactly why they would stick with a show delivering dismal ratings. If it does fantastic ratings, they will obviously keep it going, hopefully making a profit.

    It's called the free market system.

    Embrace it.

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