Electing a TV Show in Red and Blue States - Think Color Wheel

Publicly we're all for morality in the media; privately we crave titillation. Why else is the pornography business as big as it is? Why else do we gawk at the horrors of a roadside accident?

The New York Times article in today's business section about the disparity of voters of top-rated TV shows versus that of the Presidential election reminds us of that - even though this contradiction isn't new.

Publicly, the morality of the day brought home the Republicans in the red states to Presidential power. But privately, it is "Desperate Housewives'" Eva Longeria in sexy lilac-colored lingerie and the bloody remains of any "CSI" show opening that ups winning Nielsen numbers.

So we are a complex nation - and that makes it so much harder for TV advertisers and TV stations to make business decisions. A PBS station in New York, WNET, won't run a promo for the Fox Searchlight theatrical release, "Kinsey." Albert Kinsey was a complex sex researcher who broke scientific ground in the 1950s.



Those viewers will indeed write letters. But as Howard Stern has said on "Late Show With David Letterman," more often than not, it may really upset some three actual people.

TV advertisers know the score. Pressure groups send form e-mail letters to their flock, that in turn will cut and paste and sign their names and send them to media agencies, TV networks, and advertisers.

Maybe they actually represent 90 concerned citizens - maybe a few more. But here's the general math: "Desperate Housewives" and "CSI" have some 20 million viewers.

So put this to a vote, I say: That's 20,000,000 to 90. Those TV shows carry the show biz state by 99 percent to less than 1 percent. That's a real mandate. And yet those 90 people will persuade Tyson Foods or Lowe's Home Improvement not to ever buy "Desperate Housewives" ever again.

Why? For media buyers, sometimes it really isn't about numbers or a real election. It's about perception - that incalculable fuzzy logic in an advertiser's media plan. Major TV advertisers' senior executives will say one letter or one e-mail isn't worth it. While big rated shows are good, they don't make or break a media plan.

But they are wrong. They're being bullied. They can easily stand up and fight and brush off the protest flies. Countless media agencies studies have shown through the years that TV pressure groups have statistically zero - I repeat zero -- effect on sales and the bottom line.

Let not the election results in the red and blue states stop here. Keep voting with logic, common business sense, mathematics, and a color wheel. Because when you blend red and blue together you get purple lingerie.

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