TV Sellers Give Marketers Chance To Do Good

Two new advertising names snuck into the "American Idol" proceedings the other night -- Allstate Insurance and ExxonMobil -- all for the "Idol" charity, "Idol Gives Back."

It's kind of weird listening to Ryan Seacrest pleading for marketers' support on the air -- like what advertisers wouldn't want to be part of the highest-rated show on television?

Surely, this all is for a good cause -- to raise awareness of the effects of poverty on children and young people in the U.S. and Africa.

For whatever donation Allstate and ExxonMobil gave, they did get some airtime, with Seacrest thanking them on the air. Surely it wasn't at the level of $50 million or so of the show's three main sponsors -- Coca-Cola, AT&T and Ford Motor Co.

You have to give the show some credit, doing what's necessary to bring attention to a terrible problem.

Discovery Communications may be taking a different -- but some say similar --approach, alerting viewers to the problem of a toxic world by launching a new 24-hour green channel, Discovery PlanetGreen. It will start next year taking over from Discovery Home Channel, and have a healthy 50 million subscribers at launch.



Discovery won't be pleading the same way as Seacrest to get advertisers onto the show. PlanetGreen will be about making money -- not a completely benevolent, altruistic TV entity.

But those advertising sales will be a whole lot different. In part, marketers might feel guilty, or shamed into not supporting all things green. But there'll also need to be solid marketing reasons to advertise.

There is always pressure on TV advertisers to do the right thing -- whether it's withdrawing their sugar-filled foods commercials from kids' shows, or taking their marketing messages off the air for programming that is inappropriate.

Look for the day where networks ask marketers to take their messages off the air and into more meaningful stuff. In the meantime, praise those TV media sellers who seem to be leveraging what power they have to help marketers do the right thing.

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