Is Glenn Beck Finished?
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Rucker says that the looming threat of right-wing violence -- stoked by conservative media stars like Beck -- inspired Color of Change members and many others to take part in the boycott.
So far, the campaign has amassed more than 160,000 signatures. Color of Change members also took to the phones, making up to 2,800 calls urging advertisers to sever their relationship with Beck. "I think people sensed there's something dangerous here, beyond it being offensive. So our members were like "Yeah. This is a problem."
Advertisers, however, were not as eager to dive in. At the start of the boycott Color of Change got the brush-off from many of the companies that sponsored Beck. "We had folks give us the following lines", says Rucker, "That 'We don't control the content of the program; we don't take political sides; we'll take what you're saying under advisement, thanks, Goodbye."'
"We'd simply say, that's obviously not satisfying. You're not addressing the fact that your dollars are enabling this" continues Rucker.
GEICO, for example, initially replied they were confident Fox would take care of the problem. Their confidence was misplaced. The bellicose network is not known for admitting fault and saying sorry, and their only official response to Beck's comments was to say that Beck's views do not reflect those of the network.
Rucker says Color of Change alerted GEICO to Fox's statement. An email exchange and several phone calls followed. Then, GEICO stopped answering the phone. In response, Color of Change posted a webpage asking "Why does GEICO support hate?" with a montage of Beck's worst comments, assembled by Media Matters. The site juxtaposed GEICO's statement that Fox would do the right thing, with the Fox statement making it quite clear that this was the last thing they planned to do. After telling GEICO they would continue to push with more letter-writing and calls, the company decided to deal with the problem and remove their ads from Beck's program.
"When we made it clear what is at stake in terms of there being a public conversation about their brand and Glenn Beck, they tended to decide they should address the issue", says Rucker.
Once advertisers started to pull out, their company spokespeople did not mince words. “Our position is simple,” said Carolyn Castel, Vice President of Corporate Communications for CVS Caremark, in email to Color of Change. “We support vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans, but we expect it to be informed, inclusive and respectful, in keeping with our company’s core values and commitment to diversity.”
Some advertisers even said their ads should not have run on Beck's show at all. "No P&G ads should have appeared on this program in the first place," said Martha Depenbrock, Brand Building Stakeholder Relations for Procter & Gamble in an email. "To be clear, if any of our advertising appeared on the Glenn Beck show, it was in error and we appreciate you bringing this matter to our attention. We will do what we can to see that it doesn't happen again."
As more and more advertisers drop Beck, others will be encouraged to stay away. "Once you've gotten a handful of large companies to distance themselves from the show," says Rucker, "Others are going to look at that and say 'They decided to steer clear, maybe we should too."
So is Beck screwed?
So far Fox has tried to play it cool, claiming the campaign has not led to a loss in earnings. A Fox spokesperson told Mediaite last week “The advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network so there has been no revenue lost.”