A Puzzlement? Toyota Leaves "Nip/Tuck," But Show Still Sold Out For Season

F/X's "Nip/Tuck" has seemingly lost an advertiser, Toyota Motor Corp., because of content issues. Sounds like bad news. Actually, it's no news.

As much as the Parents Television Council would like to take credit for pushing out Toyota--and hopefully bringing down a TV show one day--its efforts have no effect, possibly having a reverse reaction. The only reason "Nip/Tuck" will go away is from lack of viewers.

PTC's credibility is more vulnerable than ever before. In 2002, as part of a legal settlement, PTC paid World Wrestling Entertainment $3.5 million in damages, and PTC founder L. Brent Bozell III had to write a letter of apology because of statements the PTC made in reference to the deaths of four children and the "WWE Smackdown" show, as well as claming that certain advertisers had stopped advertising in the show.

The whole "Nip/Tuck" affair doesn't make sense. The show has been on the air since 2003. It's not as if Toyota woke up one day and suddenly was shocked at the rough language and subject matter on the show, nor F/X's other tough-minded programs, "The Shield" and "Rescue Me."



PTC got it wrong on another front. A PTC spokesman said in the Los Angeles Times, "We understand their [Toyota's] need to reach young audiences... Protecting children from graphic sex and violence in the media is a shared responsibility."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you need to be 18 years old to drive a car? (How many 12-year-olds can actually afford their own Toyotas, anyway?) Advertising to young children would be a waste of Toyota's valuable media buying dollars. "Nip/Tuck" targets young adults in the 18-24 or 18-34 demographic.

The L.A. Times story also named other advertisers who dropped out of the show last year--Ben & Jerry's and Gateway. But what the Times doesn't seem to understand is that TV advertisers routinely come in and out of TV shows during the course of a year, depending on their marketing needs. It happens all the time for "CSI," "The West Wing" and "Desperate Housewives." Not only that, but advertisers go in and out of shows because of "content" reasons that are not always of a sexual or violent nature. Why is Toyota's move special? Only because PTC says so.

If PTC were really interested in content on TV and advertisers, it would try to follow the actions of every single national TV advertiser as each one moves in and out of shows through the year, and then determine whether those actions were for content reasons. But the group won't do that because it would be too complicated--and not a sexy story. The PTC has an associate group called the Media Research Center. Perhaps they should do some real research.

Saying Toyota has pulled out of "Nip/Tuck" is like saying some TV viewers who watched TV last night won't be watching tomorrow night. Has the show been harmed? FX says advertising in "Nip/Tuck" is sold out for the season.

The PTC, no doubt, did its job well.

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