At time of publishing 22 companies have pulled their advertising from Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor,” hosted by Bill O’Reilly.
With the recent Google/YouTube placement scandal still in everyone’s minds ad placement and brand safety has never been more at the forefront. These firms are leaving following allegations of misconduct published by The New York Times.
The companies in question are GlaxoSmithKline, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Lexus, Mitsubishi, Constant Contact, UNTUCKit, Sanofi, Allstate, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition/Rachael Ray Nutrish, T. Rowe Price, Wayfair, MileIQ, Bayer, Esurance, Credit Karma, True Car, The Wonderful Company, Society of Human Resources Management, Coldwell Banker and Orkin.
“We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure it is conducted in a responsible manner aligned with our values,” said pharmaceuticals company GlaxoSmithKline. “We have temporarily put a hold on spots running on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ while we assess this situation.”
A spokesman for BMW of North America said it suspended advertising with the show “in light of the recent New York Times investigation.”
Ainsworth, Allstate and Hyundai have said their ad withdrawals are limited to “The O’Reilly Factor” and don’t extend to the rest of Fox News. A Hyundai spokesman said that the company is reallocating upcoming ads set to air on the show “due to the recent and disturbing allegations.”
Allstate, said that the accusations go against its corporate values. “Inclusivity and support for women are important Allstate values. We are concerned about the issues surrounding the program and we have suspended our advertising.”
T. Rowe Price said in a statement, “We regularly evaluate our media buys to ensure alignment with our corporate values, and in light of the recent allegations we have decided to pull our upcoming ads from ‘The O’Reilly Factor.'”
Like Allstate, Bayer also specifically cited its commitment to women. “Bayer supports a safe, respectful and non-abusive environment for women and we have reached out to Fox to voice our concerns regarding this matter,” the pharmaceutical company said in a statement.
O’Reilly is Fox News’ top revenue producer, according to research firm Kantar Media, bringing in over $178 million in ad dollars in 2015 and $118.6 million in the first nine months of 2016. Fox News itself makes up one-fifth of parent company 21st Century Fox’s profit, according to estimates from Anthony DiClemete, a media analyst with the Nomura investment bank.
Bill O’Reilly himself released a statement via his website: “Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline.
But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children.
The worst part of my job is being a target for those who would harm me and my employer, the Fox News Channel. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.”
Fox News said in a statement Tuesday, “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about ‘The O’Reilly Factor.’ At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
Advocacy groups have started campaigns targeting advertisers of “The O’Reilly Factor.” The Women’s March group posted a message on Twitter:
Women, let's use the power of our voice and tell advertisers to #DropOReilly. Share your own stories of sexual harassment in the workplace.
— Women's March (@womensmarch) April 4, 2017
Activist group Sleeping Giants have released a list of advertisers still placed with the show to encourage more defections:
UPDATE: The O'Relly Factor Advertiser List was updated at 9:51EST. Get tweeting you guys. And keep it clean. Thanks. https://t.co/4nCzlqrCQ8
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) April 5, 2017
This is not the first time this kind of boycott has gone forward on similar grounds. The problem is that until the network itself does something to stop this kind of behaviour then relocating advertising fund throughout the network does not really achieve much. The advertisers need to look at pulling ads from throughout the whole network as long as they keep supporting this kind of behaviour. This is a good start but the advertisers need to look at their whole relationship with the channel that is allowing this to happen and in doing this are complicit in the harassment.