Inflammatory pundits be warned: progressive organizations are learning to leverage the power of advertising boycotts – and major brands are listening. After Fox News host Glenn Beck called President Obama a “racist” last month, Color of Change, the largest online African-American political organization, launched an advertising boycott. As of last week, Beck’s show lost 62 of its advertisers.
According to data collected about advertising revenue, at its highest, Beck’s program took in $1,060,000 for the week ending August 2, 2009. Color of Change launched the boycott at the end of the week. Beck’s show had an estimated advertising revenue of $492,000 for the week ending September 6, 2009, according to collected data.
“Fox News Channel has consistently claimed they haven’t lost revenue as advertisers abandon Glenn Beck, but the numbers prove otherwise,” said James Rucker, executive director of ColorOfChange.org. “Fox News Channel has a limited amount of ad positions. If 62 companies refuse to run ads on two of their 24 hours of programming, they are losing inventory. No matter how high Beck’s ratings have been lately, advertisers still see Beck as toxic and don’t want him associated with their brands.”
Former advertiser on Beck’s show, The Clorox Co., said, “we do not want to be associated with inflammatory speech used by either liberal or conservative talk show hosts.” Clorox said in a statement that it will not advertise on political talk shows.
“We don’t plan on running any more ads on the Glenn Beck Show,” said Capital One spokesperson, Kathy Adkins.
“Our current TV buys do not include any future airings on the Glenn Beck Show… Our ads will not run during the show,” said Mai Lee Ua, Project Manager for Public Relations at Discover.
Some advertisers only halted advertising on Beck’s show temporarily. Spokesman for UPS, Rich Hallabran said he temporarily stopped buying ads on Fox News Channel, but said it should not be “interpreted as we are permanently withdrawing our advertising from Fox.”
Van Jones co-founded Color of Change
There is an interesting twist to the story: Van Jones, Obama’s former special advisor for green jobs, enterprise, and innovation at the Council on Environmental Quality, was a co-founder of Color of Change. Jones resigned after Beck repeatedly brought up his “radical” past. Rucker said Jones has not been associated with the organization for over a year.
“I didn’t even know Van had been a subject of Glenn Beck’s sustained attacks until after we had launched the campaign,” Rucker said. “I can say absolutely there was no involvement by Van or the White House. Beck has made these claims that are not fact-based and he needs to change the subject, and that’s what this is all about.”