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It's a situation no advertiser likes to be in: a media property you advertise on is at the center of a controversy involving politics and race. Advertisers on Fox News' Glenn Beck Program found themselves in this situation last month when the show's host, Glenn Beck, called the president of the United States, Barack Obama, a "racist". In large part due to one organization's grassroots campaign, nearly 50 advertisers have reportedly pulled their ads from Beck's show.

Yet boycotting Beck may not be such an easy decision for many of them because of one fact: Beck's controversial statement hasn't put a dent in his show's popularity. In fact, the Glenn Beck Program is "pure ratings gold", pulling in the greatest number of cable news viewers between the ages of 25 and 54 at night even though he airs in a pre-primetime slot.

Are advertisers pulling their ads from the Glenn Beck Program making the right decision? Or are Beck's ratings too good to ignore?

There are two philosophical questions advertisers must address here:

  • When should they make the decision to boycott a particular media property?
  • Except in extraordinary circumstances, should they even be making such decisions at all?

When it comes to answering these questions, the situation with Beck offers some interesting food for thought.

A controversial media property is a difficult thing for advertisers to grapple with. When controversy strikes, advertisers may find themselves pressured to distance themselves from the property. When the controversy is related to touchy subjects like politics and race, the pressure can be even more palpable because it's naturally uncomfortable to be caught in the crossfires.

Yet pressure and discomfort can distort logical decision-making. Here, we see that despite the controversy that has erupted and the backlash Beck has received from some camps, his ratings continue to climb. Clearly, while many are incensed by his comments, many others seem to be hearing something they either agree with, find interesting or think has some entertainment value.

Should advertisers pass judgment on Beck's content? Perhaps, but if they do, they risk shunning a large number of consumers. Bank of America, Kraft and Proctor & Gamble are listed amongst the advertisers that have reportedly pulled ads from Beck's show. But do any of these advertisers believe that Beck's viewers aren't their customers or potential customers? Do any of these advertisers have reason to court consumers who don't watch Beck over those who do?

Obviously, Beck didn't do himself any favors by calling the president of the United States a racist. But the organization leading the charge to pressure advertisers into pulling their ads for his show, Color of Change, has made an equally extreme statement: Beck's show is "repulsive, divisive and shouldn't be on the air". Reasonable people might agree with the first part of that statement but anyone who supports the idea of a free society (and free speech) would probably argue that the idea unpopular speech be shut off from the airwaves is itself repulsive and divisive.

Needless to say, discussions like these are a can of worms. But generally, I think advertisers are best off staying above the fray and avoiding decisions that are based on issues with which they're not concerned.

Color of Change's template letter that is sent to advertisers of Beck's show states "I presume your company does not want to...have your products or services associated with the kind of views and tactics espoused by Beck" but I personally doubt that someone who sees an ad for Applebee's on the Glenn Beck Program is going to assume that Applebee's shares Beck's ideological position. Just as I doubt that someone who sees an Applebee's ad on a sleazy reality TV program is going to associate Applebee's with the promiscuity, drinking, and other shameless and degrading behavior that is frequently on display on these programs. If advertisers are suddenly going to buy into the notion that a television ad is an endorsement of the show on which it runs, most advertising execs should probably head for Confession. Immediately.

Bottom line: except in the rarest of circumstances, advertisers should focus on what matters. Reach, demographics, ROI. Most of the time, consumers are smart enough to understand that advertisers don't necessarily support the content they advertise alongside. And for that reason, the vast majority of us don't really care about who advertises where. When advertisers start making decisions based on pressure from groups with agendas unrelated to their own, they do make an endorsement of sorts and they jump head first into the very controversy they're trying to avoid.

Photo credit: matthewfilipowicz via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 1 September, 2009 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Russ

Your article here is the best I have read since this whole controversy between Beck and ColorOfChange began last month.  Businesses should make their own marketing decisions, not be influenced by outside groups who disagree with the content of a certain show.  And like you, I am impressed with the numbers that Beck has been drawing at the time slot he is in.  Could you imagine if he were shifted in the Fox line-up as a lead into O'Reilly?   

over 7 years ago

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m gott

I am in agreement that most of us do not link the advertiser with the program.  However, since I dislike Glenn Beck, and his views, intensely, then I will not ever be watching his program, and thus will never see those ads, and since I hope and believe that the more intelligent members of the tv audience feel the same way, then the advertisers do lose.  Unless, of course, the advertiser has a product that appeals mainly to morons.

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

M Gott,

Hope you're being sarcastic.

What of all of the vapid reality TV shows that advertisers advertise on? It's hard to imagine that they're reaching members of MENSA.

Bottom line: whether your customers/potential customers have an IQ of 90 or an IQ of 150, chances are they eat, brush their teeth, have a bank account, etc.

over 7 years ago

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Frances

Patricio - you underestimate Mensans; they take delight in watching just the sort of programs you consider trash.  Anyway, even if they didn't, that's a self-identified group that purports to be those in the top 2%  IQ bracket that bother to be tested.  Not exactly the demographic any advertiser is going to target at the expense of the rest of the populace.  That being said, I deplore the use of boycotts (or the threat thereof) to stiffle free speech.  Increasingly, free speech is being defined as being either so bland as to offend noone, or containing a bias acceptable to the self-appointed elites.

over 7 years ago

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LouisCipher777

This is a wonderful article, really brings the point home.  Most advertisers who have pulled their ads from Beck actually never wanted to advertise on political opinion shows to begin with, and many have pulled ads from liberal talk shows too.

@ M Gott,

You enspouse exactly what is wrong with the extremeists on both sides of the isle... their complete disdain for the other side.  your incapability to see anyone who watches Beck and his ilk as anything but "morons" is exactly why this country is so polarized and at each others' throats.  Stop acting like you are somehow better than them.  You're not.  Get over it.

over 7 years ago

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CatM

Perhaps the are boycotting Glenn Beck because they personally are appalled by his remarks and do not want to support his anti-government, anti-American rhetoric and his efforts to incite violence. Already, Glenn Beck viewers have been responsible for multiple acts of violence. I would not want to be an advertiser who supports that program when the next, possibly even bigger, incident occurs.

I also disagree that people will not assume Applebee's supports Glenn Beck's rhetoric if they advertise on his program. If you saw an Applebee's ad in a white supremacist magazine wouldn't you think Applebee's must support that kind of hate speech? Glenn Beck is such a well known name at this point and well known for the things he has said that when I see advertisers using their money to help him propogate his hate speech, I feel they should be held responsible.

over 7 years ago

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Sue

I really don't care who advertises.  Glenn Beck is one person who is not afraid to speak the truth.  Finally it is refreshing to hear the truth and you can make up your own mind about it.  It advertisers aren't about the TRUTH then maybe they should pull their ads.  Myself I thank Glenn Beck and pray for him and his family.  Keep up the good work.

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

CatM,

I don't know much about Glenn Beck. I've seen a few clips on YouTube and of course I'm familiar with the comments he made that led to this boycott. I don't really care to voice an opinion on the man's positions because they don't concern me. Frankly, I think most people would probably do well to look at political commentary as entertainment because in my experience no matter where in the world you go, it seems to be little more than that.

Do some of Glenn Beck's comments fall under the category of hate speech? I don't know. It seems that 'hate speech' has come to mean 'unpopular speech' in many circles. I always thought there was a difference.

What I do know: credulity is strained everytime anyone suggests that because X listened to or watched Y, X did Z.

If you truly believe that, you necessarily believe that advertisers should boycott reality TV, certain forms of music (rap, heavy metal, etc.), video games, various sporting events and a whole host of other media properties that glorify violence, drinking, promiscuity and other 'bad' behavior.

If I read between the lines, what you're saying is:

1. The more than 3m viewers of the Glenn Beck Program are anti-government, anti-American and love hate speech.

2. Unpopular speech, such as voicing disagreement and dissatisfaction with one's government, is tantamount to inciting violence.

3. Individuals are incapable of discerning that an ad on television or in a magazine does not represent an endorsement of a television program or magazine's content.

In other words, it seems that you generally don't think too highly of your fellow citizens. If I felt that way, I'd be far more bothered about this than who is advertising where.

over 7 years ago

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Tom

If these company boycott, I will boycott these companies. I wish all Americans would get together and follow suit.

over 7 years ago

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MK

"Already, Glenn Beck viewers have been responsible for multiple acts of violence."

CatM, any evidence of this? Keep in mind that Blacks are 2.25 times more likely to commit officially-designated hate crimes against whites than vice versa. Are they Glenn Beck viewers?

over 7 years ago

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SK

I have emailed each company that has decided to pull from fox Gen Beck show telling them that I have sold their stock and will not purchase their products. For these company's to pull these adds because of a left wing nut organization says something about how afraid they are.

I watch the Glen Beck show and he speaks the truth. I have checked his facts. He does research that many other folks in the media won't or are afraid to. Most people that hate Beck or his show really need to open their minds and do the research.

MK for you to say that Glenn Beck viewers have been responsible for multiple acts of violence is like saying Obama is responsible for SEIU violence at town hall meetings.

Glen Beck is not responsible for violence nor is Obama when his supporters have acts of violence.

It will be the advertises loss that pulled from Fox and Gen Beck. Fox is the power house in news and Becks ratings are off the charts. Advertisers are waiting in line to be on Fox and Glen Becks Show.

over 7 years ago

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alan

im confident most americans do not hate the president and trully dont care what color he is. i do beleive they trully beleive his policies are far to radical and are unamerican. most americans beleive a person is responsible for his are her own well being. a lot of americans do despise the free pass this president has been given by the media. the only person that could have won this election with his baggage had to be afican american liberal, with an in the tank national media that would not give fair and balanced coverage regarding his anti american veiws. no one could seduce this country that is as radical as mr obama without a media that would not do their job.they had huge issues that they not only would not cover but did all they could to help him deflect. in several cases his handlers got real smart and realized the issues could not get traction because only fox was willing to cover them.if a large number of americans dislike obama it is more about their concern that he does not like america. if the media would have done their job and reported in a fair and balanced way so the american people could have drawn informed conclusions about the man he might be trusted enough to do some good for this country.the media and the obama team stoll this election by not providing information the peoplr needed to make a confident choice. this is a great way to win an election but a poor way to govern a country and maintain enough confidence to cause any meaningful change.glenn beck and fox news will continue to grow in the ratings because they are the only folks willing to show some courage. any company boycotting these programs is spineless and has weak leadership.

over 7 years ago

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manny2066

Almost 3 million viewers watch his show daily, that is 1 in every 100(almost 10% of the population). The winner is Glenn Beck and the losers are the Advertisers. Whether I agree with him or not, that's another question, but I can tell you this, he has the 'guts' that no one in another network has.



over 7 years ago

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lucy

Yes we value free speach as a society, I think the point of their comment on Beck was not that we should limit free speach, but rather, as a society we should reject the type of speach which Glenn Beck uses. I respect that the advertisers have stopped supporting his show. His comment was out of line and should be looked at critically.

over 7 years ago

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Sojerner Truth

Hey, big money conglomerates who won't advertise on Beck's programs.......

Like tens of thousands of other Americans, I only watch Fox.   Leaving Fox will only hurt your sales.   Maybe you think Washington will bail you out, huh?

Cowards cut tail and run.

over 7 years ago

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chris

This is so ridiculus. Most Advertisers know the places to advertise. They know smart people want to hear the TRUTH about government. Unless of course they are thug union based then they want to keep the truth covered up. I would say America is waking up to the truth little by little more every day as people like Glen Beck point the facts out to them. Advertisers would be wise to advertise where the people are and they are with him and those like him.

over 7 years ago

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H. Carter

These advertisers that pulled their ads due to pressure from a RACIST organization "Colorofchange.org." will pay a price in lost sales.

over 7 years ago

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SL

I do not see hatred from Beck for the President, I see and hear questions from Beck, but I have not seen or heard any answers from our President.

over 7 years ago

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tater

This is for CP. I didn't know it was illegal to hate the president. This is still a free country. For now anyway

over 7 years ago

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love my country!

Everything is becoming too political in our country.  What is happening to freedom of speech?  Let Glen be Glen and say what so many are afraid to say in the media.  Frankly, we need more people like him who aren't afraid to speak out and express concerns as a citizen.

over 7 years ago

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D. Taff

I DON,T KNOW IF GE was one of the advertizer but Glenn is reporting the news as they uncover the questions about the direction in which our president seems to be bent on taking our nation in an unpresidented  agenda.Plus in the time frame they want to complete their task.Follow the DOLLARS AND THEIR PURPOSE.

over 7 years ago

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Sebastian James

Well if it was readers you needed, you got them.

From the pure standpoint of making money, you're right.  Stick with Beck.  His audience is loyal, I'm sure his cumulative numbers are high. I'm not sure if there has been something on the left that's been so stupid and widely followed as Beck (and Limbaugh and the rest); but given time and human nature I'm sure there will be.

The problem for me is that making money strictly for itself shows no character.  It says, to me, that the person has little to no moral or ethical compass.  The person has lost touch with whatever it is they were taught as a child (if anything). 

We're amazed by insurance companies that can deny people care that they desperately need; but we understand the business decision behind it.  The decision to deny was good business-wise, but devoid of all character.  We're amazed by the occasional divorce lawyer that "serves their client", but destroys what's left of the family.  The case is won, but at what price?

Let me follow your logic.  If the ratings and audience were there, then you should advertise on anything.  Right?  Feel free to admit it.  Do you have any limits, other than content that's illegal, on what you wouldn't advertise on?

Maybe you're a birther, a Nativist, a Minuetman, a Dittohead.  Then I understand the column.  But if you're not, and are a garden variety opportunist, then there's lots like you out there.  You'd use the logic of making money, much like the logic of "just following orders."  One day maybe there will be less of you.

I hear that if healthcare reform passes, Beck is going to do a show on how states that don't want it should secede from the United States.  It will be a big one for ratings, and I suggest your company get extra spots.  After all, it would be good for them to have their product or service associated with treason.

over 7 years ago

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ron

Agree or disagree it does not matter.  Companies who stop their advertising gets involved with politics and thus takes sides.  This is also a form of stopping freedom of speech.  I will not use their products when I find out this is the situation.

over 7 years ago

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ron

Agree or disagree it does not matter. Companies who stop their advertising gets involved with politics and thus takes sides. This is also a form of stopping freedom of speech. I will not use their products when I find out this is the situation.

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Sebastian,

As you can see from the comments here, people are passionate about politics. I wrote an article about Beck and advertisers and the majority of the comments are political in nature.

I don't live in the United States. I don't watch Beck. I've spent time in quite a few countries and consider most political commentary to be little more than entertainment. I earn an honest living primarily as a business owner. So it's a bit odd that you'd suggest I'm either a Nativist, Minuetman, Dittohead or opportunist simply because I believe in free society and don't think advertisers need to get involved in political debate.

The point I think you missed in this post is that there are very few places advertisers can advertise today that are immune to criticism. If you expect an advertiser to pull ads from Beck's show because Beck's comments are called extreme, do you also expect an advertiser to pull ads from programs that glorify violence, drinking, drug use and sex? If so, are you proactively doing anything about it? If not, why not?

As a foreigner, it kind of intrigues me that advertisers would be asked to pull ads from a show discussing political topics that are clearly on the minds of many people. No matter how ridiculous reasonable people might find the comments made on that show to be, I think it says a lot that so many people apparently turn a blind eye to the violence and debauchery on television and instead criticize advertisers for supporting political speech that is unpopular or in conflict with their own beliefs.

Let me ask you a couple of simple questions. Advertising subsidizes most of the programming on mainstream television. That includes programming that provides the news to citizens and fosters discussion (and debate) over important hot-button topics. Would the public benefit if advertisers begin choosing who to support and who not to support on ideological grounds? Would that not in effect turn advertisers into the gatekeepers for your news and political discourse? If so, you essentially believe that the Fortune 500 should be in the censorship business.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want Applebee's or Coca-Cola deciding what should be on the air and what shouldn't be. If some television personality is a raving lunatic, don't you want the ability to decide that for yourself? And what's the problem with giving your fellow citizens the opportunity to look at what's in the 'marketplace of ideas' so that they can decide for themselves too?

over 7 years ago

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Sebastian

Patricio,

First go to YouTube and look at some of Beck's "greatest hits".

At some point in the process, the advertiser needs to watch the show, or view the content and decide whether or not it's for them.  Granted, there are a lot of places where advertisers can be criticized.  But if they are aware of the content, then it's up to them whether or not to associate their brand with it.

If the brand is willing to be associated with the speech, then fine.  If not, then pulling or withholding advertising isn't censorship.  It's the advertisers right to spend their money wherever they please.  It's also incumbent on the show's or the network's staff to go out and find advertisers for the content.  Advertising dollars aren't welfare.  If somewhere along the line the show or network can no longer find advertisers, then they must decide what's next for the money-losing venture.

Please, goto YouTube and look for some of Beck's greatest hits. I'm sure in the decades to come, someone on the left in the US will prove to be as nutty as Beck. But for now, he's the only person on TV trying to convince people that President Obama is trying to use the 2010 Census to round up people and put them in re-education camps.

over 7 years ago

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robyn lindley

Thank God for Glen, Bill and Sean...Saying that what made it ok for people to call Bush a racist because Katrina people weren't getting enought gov. assistance.  This country is headed for the change we don't want.  I am glad the companies boycott Beck, that shows me who I can trust.  I have not bought GE or watch NBC because of their views of life and out country period. GOD BLESS YOU GLEN and I am saying this now because tomorrow I may not be able to.  Keep us informed & if people wanna drag you down just think "I'm doing this for my country because I have a BIGGGGGG meggaphone" God Bless AMERICA

over 7 years ago

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Rae Sebade

I am a long time fan and believe that you tell the truth and without you, Rush, Hannity and others our country would be I believe lost. 

What you do is surely blessed by God because He is in charge and I am so sorry for people who do good like you have to be so unfairly treated.

I would boycott everyone of those companies - is there a list somewhere?

Please Please keep up the fight for our country..

over 7 years ago

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Julio

The boycotting of Glenn Beck's show by those advertisers that responded to the "colorofchange" organization, really irritated me. It is ridiculous that this organization, which clearly has racial overtones, can dictate what TV programs can or can not be aired. I would like to see a complete list of those spineless advertisers that responded in such a docile way to "colorofchange", so that I can be sure not to buy anything from them. I wish many people would do the same thing.

Since when has it become acceptable to supress other people's ideas just because they don't agree with our ideas? I have been watching Glenn Beck for several months and even though I don't always agree with him in many ways, I find him to be honest in his opinions and not affraid to state his position on different causes. I'm sure that if he was as vociferous as he is but had liberal tendencies, nobody would be trying to get him off the air.

What ever happened to the First Amendment rights. Have those rights been replaced with the need for "political correctness"?

over 7 years ago

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Martin

Patricio,

I don't understand why you'd think advertisers are making decisions based on anything other than the bottom line. They're not calling for the show to be taken off the air - although ColorofChange might be - they're just deciding not to advertise on it, in exactly the same way as they decide not to advertise on hundreds of other shows.

ColorofChange might have changed the way the advertisers' audience thinks about Glenn Beck's show, but that's the kind of judgment that media planners make all the time, it's nothing unusual.

If they think it will hurt their brand, that's up to them. If an ad slot's more expensive than it used to be because of Glenn Beck's recent spike in fame and they're looking for an excuse to pull the ads - again, that's up to them. If your article were discussing whether it was in advertisers' best financial interest to boycott Glenn Beck, fair enough: but it isn't really doing that.

A couple of other points:

Would the public benefit if advertisers begin choosing who to support and who not to support on ideological grounds?

First, when did this become about ensuring the public benefit? I'm pretty sure you're not suggesting that advertisers are somehow prevented from choosing ad spots unless they can demonstrate that their motives are solely profit-led? Should they be prevented from sponsoring political campaigns like RED or Breast Cancer Awareness?

Second, you can't have it both ways: either they're "choosing who to support" or "consumers are smart enough to understand that advertisers don't necessarily support the content they advertise alongside".

Finally, how is it possible for advertising in one place to be "non-ideological" while buying your ad space elsewhere is "ideological" and therefore wrong?

over 7 years ago

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tony wallie

Glenn Reck should join his Family tradition and repeat the actions of his Mother and Brother.

over 7 years ago

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a plummer

"reck" i mean beck is a damm fool>>>wake up people if u listen to this nut, you must enjoy walking down the street in fear...because this is all he promotes, fear & stupidity..i can't even wonder why this jerk is wasting the air waves with this juck talk...try working and living in the real world idiot..and then lets see how long your mouth says open"....im sure not for long..help the country not cripple it.

over 7 years ago

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Martinize

Olbermann and Maddow made far more incendiary and insulting comments about the previous administration, yet an attempted boycott of their advertisers would have been scoffed out of the boardroom.  Why is it always the one side that is offended to the point of 'we can't handle this'?

Walmart, Caremark, Clorox, Sprint, Verizon, Applebee’s, DirecTV, Travelers Insurance, Kraft, Vonage, Geico, GE, SC Johnson (they're a family company you know), Procter & Gamble, Sargento, State Farm,  Mens Warehouse,  Radio Shack, GMAC, Best Buy, CVS, Travelocity and ConAgra are supposedly a few of the four dozen who've pulled their commercials away from Beck's viewership. 

Unlike spineless advertisers and the ultra-sensitive intolerants who pressure them into regrettable business decisions, I will remain unaffected by this ridiculous circus, purchase whatever products I please and watch whoever's bold enough to keep freedom of speech alive.  Let Keith and Rachel say whatever they want but stop trying to shut up Glenn and Rush.

over 7 years ago

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Sue S

I commend all the advertisers who did the responsible thing of not supporting such hate-filled trash that is the Glenn Beck show.  Free speech is inteneded to be used RESPONSIBLY.  Just because you have free speech does not mean that you can go around crying fire in a crowded theatre when there is no fire... Beck spews nothing but hate.  He is clearly a deranged mad man.  If his ratings are up it's probably because some people are curious about this freak and are amused by his crazy rants and not because there is any real true value in what he has to say.  And to believe that there are people who believe this clown... people who believe this mad man are actually crazier than this mad man himself... and that is a very scary thought. 

over 7 years ago

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Sebastian

Patricio,

I'd like to say that this will eventually subside.  Study up on Father Charles Coughlin, Beck's predecessor.  It seems as if anti-government types pop up at times when the country makes the most progress.

In a sense you're right.  The lunatic fringe needs advertising as much as the rest of us.  It still shows zero character or judgement to support types like Beck, but if it helps pay the bills, I suppose that's something.  Hopefully someone has sense enough to wash their hands when they're done.

We've past the time when we need to stop talking about lunatics like Beck and Coughlin, and start calling them out as such.  We're very comfortable calling "Flavor of Love" trash (because that's what it is), why not the face of a movement that thinks a speech encouraging kids to work hard and stay in school is socialism?

over 7 years ago

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Lissa, MN

Glenn Beck rocks!  He has the guts to speak the truth.  And those who try to cancel his show are saying its ok to punish and censor those who don't think the same as you.  Censorship should scare everyone.

I wish I was selling a product just so I could advertise on his program.

If you are not outraged, then you are not paying attention.

His anti-government, anti-american, "hate speech" are not merely his opinions.  He didn't make this crap up.  These are things that are happening right now, our government and American freedoms are being destroyed right under our noses.  There is anti-American and anti-government going on right now.  And it's not Glenn Beck doing it...for God's sake.  (Am I still allowed to say that?)  He is telling the facts of what is happening in this country right now.  If you think it's hate talking, then you would hate what is happening in this country right now.   Pay attention.

over 7 years ago

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Peggy

Why can't Glenn Beck say the word racist?  We still have freedom of speech, don't we?  Besides, many others use the word constantly.  We would do well to heed Beck's common sense approach to the nation's problems.  It doesn't have to be so complicated.  At the rate we are going, being an American is quickly becoming a disgrace.

over 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Martin,

1. Brands that respond hastily to calls for a boycott by pulling ads don't exactly give the impression that they're making business decisions that are based on an objective and thorough analysis of the situation.

2. If you re-read my "public benefit" comment, I think you'll see that it was clearly in response to the notion that society should welcome advertisers "disassociating" themselves from a media property that promulgates unpopular views, which is what the commenter I was responded to clearly seemed to be implying.

3. Calling RED, breast cancer awareness and other such 'causes' political in nature is quite a stretch. That's not to say that these may not be issues that overlap with politics in some way (what subjects don't?), but supporting AIDS and breast cancer awareness is probably not going to subject a brand to credible scorn. That said, there's plenty of debate over the efficacy of such campaigns and 'greenwashing' is something brands would do well to avoid in my opinion.

4. Appearances and intent are everything. If a brand doesn't want to advertise on a particular media property, that's fine. Problems clearly occur, however, when a brand pulls ads in an apparent response to pressure from an interest group (organized or unorganized). Here, brands that pulled ads from Beck's show create the appearance that they've agreed with a particular group's ideological position and as you can see, in the process they make themselves an even bigger part of the controversy. One interest group trumpets the pulling of ads as evidence that its position is right (or reflects a mainstream view); the other criticizes the brands for caving in. It's a no-win. Like I said, if certain brands want to avoid all controversy, there are tons of properties (offline and online) that should be avoided.

5. Except in the most extreme of circumstances, what's wrong with the idea that brands should buy media solely in an effort to maximize ROI? Do for-profit, publicly-traded companies first and foremost not have moral and legal obligations to do right by their shareholders?

over 7 years ago

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Sebastian

Patricio,

Heard this interview today and immediately thought of you.

http://audio.wbez.org/wv/2009/09/wv_20090909.m3u

Tapping into Beck to sell more widgets has deeper ramifications, ones that advertisers don't often think about.

Hope you take a quick listen.

about 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Patricio, wow, you've read Ayn Rand and can parrot her theories.

I'm impressed. All the illiterate hillbillies who came out to support your out-of-date laissez-faire position are too.

about 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Alec,

It's amazing isn't it? The world must be coming to an end! "Illiterate hillbillies" have learned to read, write and use the internet! They puruse internet marketing blogs when they're not watching NASCAR and studying Ayn Rand. Are we sure this isn't all a big misunderstanding? Maybe there's a NASCAR driver named Andy Rand?

Or maybe, just maybe, the notion that anyone who doesn't agree with your position on individual freedom and free markets must be an illiterate hillbilly is flawed. I'll let you figure it out.

about 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Barely literate would have been better, but we can't edit our comments here.

If you would like to go back and review the shouts of your cheerleaders, you'd see the moniker sticks.

Surprised to see you enjoy such company.

about 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Alec,

I don't begrudge anyone the right to express an opinion. Some opinions are obviously more informed than others but unlike you, I won't call a person names for expressing an opinion that I don't agree with.

I suppose it never occurred to you that reasonable and unreasonable people alike might agree with an opinion even though the person expressing it doesn't necessarily agree with all of theirs. In other words, somebody might very well agree with my opinion on how advertisers should deal with boycotts like the one discussed here for reasons I don't agree with. I'm surprised you think this constitutes enjoying "company" or having "cheerleaders" as if one can choose those who agree with one's opinions.

Interestingly, only a few of the comments here actually discussed the true point of my post: the idea that advertisers should generally stay above the fray when it comes to controversies and boycotts. The rest generally missed the point that this wasn't at all about Glenn Beck; they either voiced support or opposition to my idea on purely ideological grounds. Interestingly, it appears your comment falls into this category and you managed to employ one of the harshest personal insults ("illiterate hillbillies"). Kind of ironic, no?

But kudos for attempting to somehow equate the ideas of Ayn Rand, a woman who has sold more than 25m books and whose ideas have become more prominent in the past year for obvious reasons, with those who can barely read and write. I wish I could say I was impressed.

about 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Patricio, important distinction:

You are the disciple of Ayn Rand.

These guys are just repeating the talking points of talk radio.

One can hardly blame them for their ideas, as they hardly know better.

In your case, you do know better.

So in your case to suggest all advertising and all commerce should be ethically neutral is an act of deliberate maliciousness.

about 7 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Alec,

In a few short comments, you have:

1. Called people with a different world view than yours "illiterate hillbillies" who can't be blamed for their ideas since "they hardly know better".

2. Labeled those who agree with the points I've made (even for reasons I wouldn't agree with) my "cheerleaders".

3. Suggested that my refusal to insult people I don't even know somehow equates to me enjoying their company.

4. Claimed that I'm a "disciple" engaging in "an act of deliberate maliciousness" for simply voicing the belief that advertisers should generally avoid making hasty decisions that create the appearance that they're arbiters of political debate or censors of media personalities who have foot-in-mouth disease.

5. Insinuated that I should "know better" than to have beliefs that differ from yours.

I thought briefly about responding to your inaccurate assertation that I believe all advertising and all commerce should be "ethically neutral" but given the above, what's the point? I'll let the nature of your comments speak for itself.

about 7 years ago

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Patricio, that's a lot of words. Let's clear the brush.

Advertising is not ethically neutral. The advertiser is enabling the message of the program advertised.

I'm not sure why you find it such a challenge to understand. I'm not sure why you think advertisers should fund the views of right wing cranks, working to make the world a worse place.

about 7 years ago

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nightwolf

I am so tired of the Liberals accusing me and others of racism simply because I watch Glenn Beck and Fox News and I disagree with the President on health care. No matter what you think, those that wish to take Beck and others off the air simply because they do not agree with their message is possibility because they can not deal with the truth. I believe these people are the true threat to our country simply because they believe free speech is fine as long as they are the ones speaking.

It is my opinion that our President is not Black, nor is he White, Yellow, Red or any other color. He is simply the President of our country. To disagree with the President does not make me a racist no more than agreeing with him makes me a liberal. The only thing it makes me is a American citizen exercising my Constitution right and duty to question my elected leaders if I Believe he is in error or misguided.

If former President Carter, the so~called main stream media and nut job actors are right about most Americans being racist and hate black people, how did Obama get elected? Call me want you want other than late to dinner. I do not care and will not be silenced by anyone as long as the Constitution is the law of the land.  I might suggest that the liberals realize they are not the only ones in our country that have the right of Free Speech!!

about 7 years ago

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robert

You Blogers should wise up and listen.Look at the America we live in.

Things are changing I'm 41 Pay my taxes and live the american dream

do you think that our goverment gave me what I have the answer is no.

I went to school and didan't skip class I didan't get drunk every weekend

I went to work. I do have a book of the Constitution. And I understand it.

My problem with the United States is this.#1-The welfare system if you look around. you will see the amount of people that has made a career by using the system and the system allowing them to do so.Do you think this is fare.I don't.

But i have a solution moniter the people that is on the system.Make it hard to stay on the system.And when they use there card they can only buy good food.And the only food they can buy is if there is a sign by the food like wick. Also make it public knowledge of who is on it.It is with public money Right.

Now the people on SSi make sure they need it.And are really Disabled.Make it public knowledge.

People As Americans we dont want our Fellow Men and woman to suffer.At the same time the ones who work dont want suffer. Because any and all over time we work the goverment takes more and more taxes.Do you think this is fare Idont.

As I close Take a minute to think this through. Look at the big picture of america think if you know somebody that takes advantage of the system.And as you thank and if you do know somebody a can tell you that all americans know of somebody that take advantage.

                Thanks in advance// Good to be anAmerican                              

almost 7 years ago

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Paula Huff

Glenn Beck is just telling like it is and thank God for him - you people that are listening to the real racists or communists - the ones that wants to bring our country down (Obama, Pelosi & Reid and their whole thug gang) are either just getting your money from big government and that means taking from us hard working people  and youare you are very mislead.  You need to wake up and listen or we will not recognize our country and Feds will have total control ov every aspect of your life.

over 6 years ago

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stephania

whow you are stupid . get a life , you just dont like him because he speaks the truth about the president and his minions , and another thing what is so wrong about learning the truth , and the consitution and the amendments

over 6 years ago

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