Is there really a boycott of Glenn Beck? Update: Law of unintended consequences?

We’ve heard about the boycott of the Glenn Beck Show on Fox News Channel, one where as many as 20 advertisers have dropped their spots, thanks to pressure from left-wing groups angry at … well, their latest anger du jour. The boycott made big news when reports that major retailers Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and CVS had joined the effort. The Left celebrated, but did these three actually pull ads from Beck? I decided to check, and found that only one of the three agreed to stop advertising on Beck.

First, I contacted Best Buy, whose corporate headquarters are in the Twin Cities. The website Defend Glenn Beck posted an e-mail from their spokesperson saying that they had never advertised on Beck in the first place. I also received an e-mail from the same spokesperson confirming this:

Hi Ed~

The facts are that Best Buy has not advertised during or adjacent to the Glenn Beck show, and has no plans to do so. We do advertise on FOX, but during the morning hours of 6-9 a.m. I hope this helps your understanding.

Thanks a ton, Lisa

Lisa Svac Hawks
Director, Public Relations
Best Buy
7601 Penn Ave. S.
Richfield, MN 55423

Next, I contacted CVS, and found that they had never requested time on Beck in the first place. They did, however, ask to have their Fox spots appear elsewhere, although they apparently haven’t reduced them:

Dear Ed:

Thanks for your note.

While advertising on Fox is part of our communication plan, we had not requested time on Glenn Beck’s show specifically. We have instructed our advertising agency to inform Fox to ensure Glenn Beck’s program is not part of our advertising plan.

Our position is simple. 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.


Finally, I contacted Wal-Mart, and discovered that they alone of this Big 3 pulled ad spots from Beck:


Walmart has confirmed the retailer pulled ads from the Glenn Beck show on August 3rd



Ashley Hardie Wal-Mart Spokeswoman
Media Relations Hotline: 1.800.331.0085

In other words, the claim here was about half true. It was completely false regarding Best Buy, and CVS didn’t request ads for Beck before requesting to avoid him. Only Wal-Mart actually pulled ads from the show, and even at that may still be redirecting its ad money to other shows. Allahpundit predicted that would be the case when he wrote about this a few days ago, and Mediaite appears to have confirmed it:

It was big news yesterday – given major play on HuffPost and discussed on MSNBC – and while it signals some success for the campaign, the fact that Beck’s network, Fox News, isn’t hurt at all continues to be ignored.

As a Fox News spokesperson told Mediaite yesterday, “The advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network so there has been no revenue lost.”

That is a point that has been reiterated since advertisers first started exiting the individual show, and it proves the advertisers are more concerned with appeasing a section of their base than actually taking a stand.

Fox News continues to pick up the check from each of these companies, and continues to benefit from Beck and whatever he says on his program. Meanwhile, until Beck’s commercial blocks are filled with ads for the Wall St. Journal, Fox Business Network and Fox Searchlight Pictures, which they aren’t, his show isn’t ultimately hurt either.

Most boycotts flop.  This one has a rather large quotient of cowflop to it as well.

Addendum: I have to say I’m puzzled by Wal-Mart’s acquiescence in this boycott.  It’s not Beck fans who picket their stores, demanding unionization and demonizing them for their employee compensation policies.  They’re appeasing the same people who want to drive them out of business.

Update: Another reader got a better explanation from Wal-Mart:

I am sorry to hear your concern. We continuously review our media plans. In keeping with our internal  guidelines to avoid content that is highly  polarizing, we’ve instructed our agencies, as of August 3rd, not to run Walmart advertising in news commentary shows on national cable networks. This would include the Glenn Beck Show.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding. Should you need to call us, we are more than happy to further assist you at 1-800-966-6546.

In other words, Wal-Mart’s decision was not so much to boycott Beck, but to remove its advertising from all commentary shows to avoid controversy.

Update: P&G seems to be falling off the list, too.  And it’s not just Wal-Mart pulling ads from all commentary shows, including some of the Left’s favorites over at MS-NBC: has also spoken to officials from Procter and Gamble, and Sargentos. P&G said they have NOT pulled ads because they never advertised on Glenn Beck to begin with. In addition P&G said they would be “restricting our advertising to daytime lineups” in an attempt to “avoid controversy”. While Sargentos, whose brand-destruction at the hands of angry consumers has been well-documented here, has now said they will also be yanking ads from MSNBC and CNN “talk personalities” as soon as it can be “arranged”.

Great work, Color of Change, you are killing the struggling shows like Hardball, Ed Show, Anderson Cooper 180, and Maddow, in addition to the once-strong brands such as Olbermann, which is now hemorraging viewers, by yanking their few high-paying advertisers away from them.

I don’t see this turning out well for the low-rated programs.  How much can unions afford to advertise on MS-NBC’s lineup, anyway?  The law of unintended consequences appears to apply here.