Campbell Soup is not backing down in the face of pressure from right-wing groups over an ad that recently appeared in The Advocate, which covers gay politics and culture, according to the Ad Age Web site. The two-page ad for Swanson's broth shows two female restaurant owners and a boy, identified as their son, enjoying soup made with the product.
While tame by the standards of gay magazine advertising, the understated ad from Omnicom's BBDO, New York has gotten Campbell into hot water with the American Family Association, which assiduously tracks advertising by mainstream brands in search of evidence that they support the "gay agenda." That includes any suggestion that homosexuality may be an acceptable lifestyle.
The AFA encouraged its members to call Swanson and urge them to "remain neutral in the culture war." If previous altercations are any guide, the AFA may next threaten to boycott Campbell Soup. From 2006-2008, the AFA organized a boycott of Ford, which it accused of condoning homosexuality in ads and supporting organizations that want to legalize gay marriage. The AFA lifted the boycott in March 2008, claiming that Ford had caved to its demands to stop supporting these causes, but Ford insisted there was no such deal.
A Campbell spokesman was quoted as saying: "Inclusion and diversity play an important role in our business, and that fact is reflected in our marketing plan. For more than a century, people from all walks for life have enjoyed Campbell's products, and we will continue to try to communicate in ways that are meaningful and relevant to them." According to the rep: "Our plans for the Swanson brand include additional placements in The Advocate."
More Layoffs at Wenner Media
Wenner Media, which publishes Rolling Stone and Us Weekly, saw another round of cuts this week, just two weeks after an earlier bout of layoffs. The company laid off three employees of Rolling Stone's editorial department, following four positions cut earlier this month. Out of an original 47, that's about 15% of the editorial staff. Wenner also revealed this week that it is delaying a planned spinoff of Us Weekly called Us Style, citing adverse economic conditions. According to MIN Online, through Nov. 13, biweekly Rolling Stone's ad pages are down 23% to 986, while Us Weekly is down a more modest 6% to 1,620.
American Media Cuts 401(k) Contributions
American Media will no longer match employee contributions to their 401(k) retirement plans, according to the New York Post, which cited a memo sent by CEO David Pecker to American Media's staff on Monday. The Post said Pecker is also eliminating an array of other perks and benefits, including reimbursement for day care, smoking-cessation treatment, health-club memberships, tuition, adoption expenses and finders' fees for new employees. American Media's better-known publications are struggling, like the rest of the magazine business.
Through mid-November, according to MIN Online, The National Enquirer's ad pages are down 9.5% to 747, Star is down 4.8% to 1,085, Country Weekly is down 24.6% to 557, and Shape is down 7.3% to 1,430. On the positive side, Men's Fitness is only down 1.7%, to 898, and Muscle & Fitness is up 4% to 1,941.