It’s important to manage your television/cable buy to avoid conflict or issues.
More and more television/cable programming can be considered controversial by one group or another. And your television/cable spots may be airing on shows with controversial content without you even buying it.
The Fox News Glenn Beck Show has always had controversial political content. But on July 28, 2009, Beck on another Fox News show Fox and Friends, called President Barack Obama a racist. Since then there has been a firestorm of protests and boycotts. Some citizens and groups have called for a boycott of all advertisers on Beck’s nightly show. Ultra-conservatives have responded by calling for a boycott of even those advertisers who have cancelled their advertising with Beck, because of the dust up. Not the kind of PR you want.
What’s more alarming is that several companies, including Procter and Gamble advertised on Beck’s show without knowing. They claimed their ads appearing on Beck’s show was a mistake. As it turns out, several advertisers’ ads appeared on the show as part of run-of-station (ROS) schedules during a block of time in which Beck’s show aired. True, they did not purchase the show specifically, but appeared in the controversial show as they attempted to cut costs and take advantage of ROS rates instead of paying higher rates for specific programming.
Other advertisers likely showed up on Beck’s show as makegoods from the network for not delivering “agreed upon” ratings. Thus, the network added spots to make up for the shortfall and some ended up on the controversial show.
Although these are national advertisers, the same issue can arise with local advertisers who purchase cable or network television advertising. Local audiences have been known to initiate local complaints and boycotts mirroring national efforts.
So there are lessons to learn.
- Even though ROS advertising schedules are less expensive, you lose control of the buy. It is probably worth paying a little more to get the exact schedule you desire.
- At the least, advertisers should provide scheduling guidelines that prohibit ads running in shows with controversial content. Such guidelines are certainly not fool proof because “controversial content” is open for debate. And sometimes a controversy can erupt overnight as in the Beck case when he made the comments about the president.
- Advertisers should also always request that makegoods be given in the same programming that was originally scheduled. This will make sure the advertiser is still in control of the schedule and will avoid unwanted programming.
More and more television and cable programming can be considered controversial by one group or another. It’s important to manage your television buy to avoid conflict or issues.
The money we spend advertising should deliver positive results, not controversies you don’t need.