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Two advertisers discuss their brand affiliation in TV shows

Brand Affiliation in TV Shows: Considerations for Advertisers

December 28th, 2018   ||    by Melanie Brown

In the current climate of sociopolitical uncertainty, consumers are mindful of where they’re spending their money and what those brands stand for. A brand’s reputation is often tied to the programming in which they advertise. As the industry has seen in recent months, advertisers have come under fire for certain choices when it comes to their ad campaigns, and brand affiliation in TV shows is something to consider when making those decisions.

The target audience has always been the major consideration for brands in planning and buying TV ad time, but now advertisers have to look deeper into the programming they’re planning against.

Consider the Program’s Content

A program’s content can range from a frivolous reality competition show to a hyperviolent police drama, and everything in between. Brands should consider the content of the shows that their advertising is put up against when planning TV buys.

Last year, controversy over programmatic ad placement in YouTube videos caused major advertisers to pull their ad dollars out of the video platform, reported The Guardian. Big brands like AT&T, Pepsi, and Walmart all found their advertising running in content that promoted hate speech and other extremist views. While this is both an extreme example, and a digital example, it serves as a warning to all brands to ensure that their ad dollars are being spent in appropriate content.

In a similar case, advertisers began to withdraw from Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News after he implied that it was OK for a 14-year-old girl and a 32-year-old man to have sexual relations. The comment was during coverage of last year’s Alabama Senate race, and the Republican candidate’s alleged pedophilia.

Keurig’s withdrawal of its advertising from Hannity’s show was widely covered by news outlets, as the program’s fans and supporters called for a boycott of Keurig products, and even posted videos of themselves destroying their coffee makers.

Be Mindful of TV Personalities

In the context of the #MeToo movement, racialized America, and political unrest, famous and powerful personalities have been silenced by controversy. When a brand is seeking to plan its TV advertising, the volatility of these situations has to be considered in addition to the show’s content.

Bill O’Reilly, Fox News ratings superstar, lost nearly half of his advertisers in 2017 after a slew of sexual harassment scandals and payoffs were investigated by The New York Times, according to Adweek.

Earlier this year, Roseanne Barr was effectively booed off the stage after her racially charged comments against former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. ABC almost immediately canceled the successful Roseanne reboot to get out in front of advertisers’ reactions. Barr infamously blamed her racist tweet on Ambien, and the company was quick to shoot down the claim, noted The New York Times.

Being associated with a personality involved in a scandal can taint an advertiser’s reputation, but can also allow the brand to take a stand. Earlier this month, according to CNBC, Nike released an ad campaign featuring exiled NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, at the risk of alienating those consumers who felt that Kaepernick’s anthem protest was disrespectful to the country and its veterans. Nike’s choice spurred backlash from those consumers—and Donald Trump—including some videos of enraged consumers burning their Nike apparel.

TV buying and planning has evolved. These days, advertisers have a lot to consider when it comes to their brand affiliation in TV shows. They may not need to have a knee-jerk reaction, but even if a program or its headlining personality is controversial, advertisers need to evaluate their ad buying decisions in several different areas.

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