Advertisers Who Shunned Duggars’ ’19 Kids’ Haven’t Pulled Money from TLC

'19 Kids': Josh Duggar Hasn't Hurt
Courtesy of TLC

A flurry of advertisers last week had a lot to say about TLC’s now-controversial “19 Kids and Counting,” noting they would no longer support the program. Few if any of them, however, have put their money in the same space as their collective mouth.

General Mills, Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut, PepsiCo’s Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Choice Hotels and Crayola LLC are among the companies that have professed to have ended support of the program, which features the extraordinarily large Duggar family, in the wake of revelations that Josh Duggar, the oldest child in the clan, molested teenage girls 12 years ago. Yet none of them have pulled any of the ad money previously earmarked for TLC or other Discovery Communications-owned outlets, according to a person familiar with the situation.

“We still advertise on TLC,” said Mike Siemienas, a manager of brand relations at General Mills, via email. A spokesman for Choice Hotels would only confirm that the company was no longer advertising on “19 Kids.” Pizza Hut, PepsiCo and Crayola did not return calls or emailed queries seeking comment.

The revelation shows how TV advertisers can generate a lot of goodwill and burnish an image by issuing a few statements but doing little else.  While the Josh Duggar controversy has sparked a wave of outrage, the most recent cycle of “19 Kids and Counting” concluded in mid-May, making it hard to determine what programming on TLC the advertisers have chosen to avoid.  Hulu, the video-streaming service owned jointly by 21st Century Fox, Comcast and Walt Disney, removed episodes of the program last week.

Simply put, the marketers who professed a desire to end their association with the “19 Kids” may have done little if anything to further that end.

For TLC, the ability to keep sponsors on board is important. The network’s ratings are often fueled by its ability to present average people in atypical situations, such as Kate and Jon Gosselin, the parents of eight kids whose lives were chronicled on a TLC program, even as the ensuing publicity accorded them helped pull apart their marriage. TLC is expected to take in approximately $311.3 million in 2015, according to projections from market-research firm SNL Kagan, up slightly from 2014’s $308.9 million and basically flat with 2012’s $310 million.

In a recent presentation to advertisers and the media, Marjorie Kaplan, a group president at Discovery who oversees TLC, professed a desire to dial back the network’s sensational elements and play up a feeling of inclusiveness,  likening the outlet to “a big warm hug.”

“We throw our arms open to everyone, without judgment,” Kaplan explained. TLC has garnered notice in recent years for “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” a look at a child contender in beauty pageants and the family around her. TLC in 2014 took the show off the air after it was disclosed that June Shannon, the young girl’s mother, was dating a man convicted of child molestation.

With sponsors not pulling any money from TLC, the network is under little pressure to make radical changes to its programming lineup or to shun controversial scenarios like “Honey Boo Boo”or “Kate and Jon + 8.” Indeed, TLC is mulling the idea of continuing its program about the Duggars, but without having Josh Duggar as the series’ main focus, a person familiar with the situation told Variety last week.

TLC has faced similar challenges in the past. In 2011, retailing giant Lowe’s announced it would no longer support “All-American Muslim,” a TLC series that examined the lives of Muslim-American families living in Dearborn. Michigan. It was widely believed at the time that Lowe’s simply continued advertising across Discovery properties and likely “re-expressed” the ad buy it had with the media company. The show completed its first season, but was not picked up for a second.

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  1. I don’t get why the dugger with the familey problem get on with it why drag ur innocent kids throgh this ugliness u caused why for more tv ratings grow up man up the way your statement reads it sounds like a death meaning pray for the familey the way it reads but josh need theopy not work theropy

  2. OH MY! says:

    oh sure… I can see the new beginning for 19 Kids and Counting:

    Michelle’s voice:

    “… and here is our eldest son Josh. He molested 4 of our daughters…”

    Now how is TLC going to work out 19 KIDS and COUNTING, with absent son, Josh? This is stupid! They call themselves 19 Kids and Counting… but can only mention 18 of them? Come on! Just cancel the whole thing. Somehow, I am sure, the fans of the show will survive. Life can go on without seeing what the Duggars are up to, next. TLC will still be there…..

  3. Ellie says:

    Oh, please. The Duggar family are a dangerous one. They are freeloaders. They hide behind the church. You want to forgive Josh and let the family move on- fine. But TLC will cancel that show. TLC has said nothing- silence is golden. The Duggars are through. And I’m glad to see them go. When Michelle can’t have any more babies, Jim Boob Duggar marries off his daughters so the baby mill can keep going and the money keeps rolling in. They are a disgusting family. Have they EVER encouraged their children to seek higher education by sending any one of them to a four year college- no! They are all out for the money and that gravy train stopped. They are a horrifying example to our children and our country.

  4. Laurie says:

    LEAVE JOSH ALONE!! All of the people involved have already forgiven him. Josh is a changed person who has a beautiful family. His kids are happy and healthy. How would you like your past to come back and have people hanging it over your head! HE IS A HUMAN BEING WHO MADE SOME MISTAKES! HE DESERVES TO LIVE HIS LIFE PEACEFULLY! ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE SOMEONE NOT THE WHOLE WORLD!

  5. ENOUGH ALREADY! The only show any Duggar should have is one funded by them to help the victims of molestation and pedophiles. Quit with the excuses; let that BIG BABY JOSH defend himself. THIS is why the public is so outraged. Letting the victims minimize this is disgusting, they were used again! Don’t you see how this would enrage other victims? Can you even understand the insult that is to victims? If you don’t, it is like saying; I got over so no big deal. It’s a big deal!

  6. Sherry Krenz says:

    I love the duggers and don’t want the show to be cancelled. Just leave the offender out. Why should the rest of the family suffer for his mistake.

  7. annabilly says:

    Wow, shameful.

  8. MyrtleJune says:

    This is quite shameful for TLC to support the Duggars’ version of extremist Christianity. Their associations with known convicted molesters (the head of their church and homeschooling “religious” organization) and child pornographers (the policeman they sought out specifically to “report” Josh’s crimes months after they occurred) should be enough to cancel them from the airwaves and websites. The parents’ cover up until it was reported by another Discovery holding, OWN made it clear they skirted the actual law since no actual investigation was done until after the statute of limitation lapsed. That they did not act upon first learning of the molestation and instead let it go on for two years is not any parents that should be held up as examples of anything on the airwaves.

    Discovery, TLC, and the advertisers that remain supportive of having the family, any member of the family, on a show or on a website indicate their support of not reporting child sexual abuse and condone the actions. Aside from that, they also support promoting the roles of females as subservient to all males who cannot act on their own and must remain strictly obedient to their father and husbands throughout life. They are simply seen as nothing more that brood mares and that is disgusting. It is not Christian in the least to treat another human being that way and take away their God given right to free will before they can ever form a thought or opinion of their own.

    TLC and the advertisers are a sorry state of affairs in the “entertainment” world. This isn’t entertainment, it is giving people a platform to forward their hate and abuse filled extremist agenda. Remove this obscenity from the airwaves and internet.

  9. dee says:

    why is this program not yet cancelled?it’s disgusting TLC that your keeping them on the air and if the advertisers keep their commercials going for this show shame on them too. cancel this sicko family the feel they are ok what happened because Josh was only 14, give me a break. Protect your children Dugger family . Kids comes first not a paycheck.

  10. anbudmor says:

    I’ve never seen this show. I don’t get TLC, and if I did, I still wouldn’t watch it. So I really don’t care what happens to the show or the Duggars.

    But I did see a part of a segment from CNN where two of the daughters were complaining about how they’d been mistreated by the media, as all this was supposed to be kept secret since they were juveniles when it happened. It does bring to the fore that the kids who were Josh’s victims are potentially going to be made victims again if the show is removed; and having this publicized all over the place is a further victimization.

    Unfortunately we tend to act in a rather unsophisticated binary fashion in matters such as this, so I’m pretty sure many people are not going to be happy.

  11. Marty Reid says:

    I have always watched most of the shows on tlc it has always been my go to channel but if you pull 19 kids and counting I will never watch another show on tlc. These people dealt with the problem when Josh was young, got the girls help also it was no ones business! This is nothing but a witch hunt on Christianity!!!!

    • Maybe it’s folks just not going along with the BS, does anybody like molesters? NO! And, no they did not deal with it, that is why he molested a child 10 years younger than him. Look it up, that is really, really sick. That is a child molester! That is not being curious about girls and making “bad choices” ALL BAD. BAD, BAD………

    • anbudmor says:

      Oh the irony of it, now the Christians are the subject of a witch-hunt!

  12. Joyce B. says:

    I think the great thing about continuing the program 19 kids would be to show that people can get past their problems and go on to become great citizens, which is what Josh Duggar has done. His PAST problem should never have come to light since he was a juvenile at the time and the records were released illegally. You should stand by this great family by keeping them on the air. They have been a great inspiration to families all over the US. This program shows how a family can live together in harmony and be a team through thick and thin.

    • Yeah,priceless isn’t it?. And to@Marty Reid,so what if you don’t watch the channel again. Besides,the Duggar’s are not the usual Christian’s,no they are something much worse… a cult.

      • anbudmor says:

        Aren’t all religions cults? I think that’s what makes it interesting TV for those who watch it. A normal good Christian would probably be somewhat boring. It is the outliers, the freaks, the bizarre that people want to see. I’m sure TLC is trying to figure out whether having a juvenile kiddie fiddler will make the show more interesting, or unpalatable to the watching public.

        I’ve seen various documentaries with all sorts of criminals from very minor crap to those on death row. In fact death row inmates are all over news/documentary shows. The question is what kind of show is ‘Duggars’. If it is proper documentary TV then it is quite reasonable to keep it on. Surely if we want honest documentaries we have to include the the good, the bad and the disgusting.

  13. Gloria Sperring says:

    Shame on you people. Have you never made a mistake? Are you perfect? We have grown people who do worse than Josh did and they don’t go to jail. I want 19 Kids and counting back on the air. If not I have no choice but to band your products and any other shows you sponsor.

    • MyrtleJune says:

      Why not have a Warren Jeffs show, or a David Korsh show, or hey how about that Jim Jones family show? You are being exposed to people who are extremists that devalue girls and all their children by not allowing them a life of their own outside of daddy’s strict control. They have no choice and have been conditioned since birth to obey daddy and be controlled by daddy forever. Even the married girls life under daddy’s roof and spend daddy’s money as told to by daddy. This is obscene that you think they are an inspiration. Sad for you.

      Bottom line they allowed child molestation to continue for two years after they became aware of it the first time. How is that an example of anything good. It’s not.

  14. Michael says:

    Time to put the pressure on TLC and every advertiser that is on TLC. If you are a mother, a grandmother an aunt. Think if it is your 5 yr old little girl with him. If you are a dad a granddad or an uncle and he is with your little girl. Now THINK!. Time to do a full court press on TLC and all advertisers on TLC.

  15. Barb Bates says:

    Josh was a kid when this happened & his parents handled it very well. It seems that this country is against anyone Christian. Why don’t you get some gumption and stand up for Christians. After all, even though Satan is going strong in this country -GOD still wins in the end. You had better check your own heart & see where you will spend eternity.

    • I hope it is not with the Duggars or you.

    • anbudmor says:

      Let’s clear this up firstly Barb: there is no God, and you won’t be spending eternity anywhere. And if there is a God, it doesn’t give a crap about us. And if it does give a crap about us, it probably isn’t Christian. And if it is Christian, it’s probably Catholic; so you’re going to hell anyway.

      I don’t think people are against Christians, so much as against bad Christians like you who shove it down our throats. Satan is strong in this country and especially so in many many Christians.

      If we actually followed the teachings of Christ, we’d be a much better country.

      I do think the Duggars are a spent force now, and that is as a result of Josh’s behavior. I think it would be untenable to expect TLC to continue to document them; and I’m sure there are many other large interesting “Christian” families to vomit up on our TV.

    • Danielle says:

      He was 15 and the girls he molested were as young as 5 years old. This is not mutual experimentation, this is molestation. Why don’t you hold him accountable for his actions? People hide behind religion to get away with awful things all the time.

  16. Me says:

    I never expected any advertisers to pull their ads completely from TLC, although it would be nice if they would. My request was only that they pull their ads from the show itself. They’ll advertise on other shows, but hopefully 19 Kids won’t have as many advertisers if production is resumed in the future. Of course there’s always the chance TLC will resume filming but will just show ad-free episodes since they don’t seem too phased by child molestation.

  17. jan lynch says:

    This article is false sensationalism! The sponsors have said that they buy sponsorship in packages (I guess much like traditional television bundles their programming – a business model which is dying and killing TV in the process). If sponsors have contracts for a certain amount of shows under certain circumstances they have to ride out the contract or risk litigation. They could say though that they don’t want their commercials shown during certain shows like “19 kids”, which is what they did. Believe me, it has nothing to do with sympathizing with this FREAK, PERVETED, HATING, CULT “family”. Don’t go around writing articles like this pretending that Gen’l Mills, etc. changed their minds or really support these nuts!

    • Brian Steinberg says:

      Thanks for your note, Jan. I do not think the article suggests the advertisers are sympathetic or not sympathetic to the Duggar family. But it does suggest that many of their statements about not supporting the program were a little empty.

  18. Candy Key says:

    please bring back the Duggers, no family is perfect. If something needs to go, get rid of the fake Amish and violent gypsy shows they are a disgrace!! I can’t believe anyone could watch such trash.

  19. Duggar = scum. Anyone with eyes saw it long ago. The world is finally catching on, and these Duggar apologist dead-enders are hilariously out of touch with reality. The Duggar name has been synonymous with lying, avarice, distortion and hubristic judgment. The name- and the brand- are all these hilljacks ever had going for them, and that name is MUDD.

  20. Annie says:

    No no no more duggars. They are a cult.what is wrong with people. Do you know their discipline methods. Do research.. Jill and jessa are just like their parents..who would want their children to be like the duggars. No spinoff and no no 19 kids. No no no.

    • just a normal person says:

      In no way do the duggars ever portray they are the perfect family. They are well aware they are human and all make mistakes. They are not a cult. Just because they try to set examples by trying to live a godly life doesn’t make it a cult. Josh Duggar was 15 years old when this happened. 1 out of every 5 kids has been curious and fondled a friend or relative or has been fondled by a friend or relative. It is normal and doesn’t mean the kid is going to grow up a child molester nor does it mean they’re a bad kid. Fondling and actual penetration are two different things. I don’t believe it was said that Josh Duggar had actual penetration or forced intercourse. All kids are curious and only some act on it but again it is very normal for a child to get aroused. It it’s most commonly to happen when your child spends the night away or when others stay the night at you ownr home! Do not cancel the tv series 19 kids and counting. It is still a great show and can still touch and help others.

      • just a normal person says:

        Fondling and curiosity are VERY NORMAL at a very young age. It’s just not talked about!! You need to check the statistics again. A child doesn’t want to admit or say they experimented with their friend or cousin or anyone for that matter. No child wants to admit something like that. For every person that experimented then what your saying is they all are child molesters, NOT TRUE!

      • meeeeeee says:

        I cannot believe you are saying there is a difference between the two. I mean, are we really picking over semantics in the sexual abuse of children? And you said this gem ” 1 out of every 5 kids has been curious and fondled a friend or relative or has been fondled by a friend or relative. It is normal and doesn’t mean the kid is going to grow up a child molester nor does it mean they’re a bad kid. ” Um, no, it is not NORMAL and it is in fact a sign that someone is not right. That’s not my opinion, that is data and statistics, and studies based on sexual offenders. Serial rapists started out fondling family members, so if that’s your barometer for normal, who did you grow up with? You should feel really stupid for saying fondling family members is normal. And Quiverfull movement, which the Duggars are, is a cult. Google it, I’ll wait. Google their ideas on child rearing, discipline, particularly the blanket method, and where they tell you to “break” a 15 month old baby mentally and emotionally, molestation (Girls who are victims of abuse are immodest and cause it to happen) etc. If you are going to be a staunch supporter of this family, you need to research their beliefs. It’s not just a Godly family, their belief system and child rearing tactics call for whipping BABIES. And victim blaming, as long as the victim is female, that is.

  21. Mae says:

    I don’t mind if these advertisers continue to support TLC. I do love watching Say Yes to the Dress. But the Duggars have to go. It is the hypocrisy that is the problem – that they would label transgendered people as perverts, abusers, etc., knowing all along that their own son is guilty of these crimes.

  22. jean says:

    I personally like the show, if you want to take something off tlc it should be some of the stupid programs, porn programs, and also look at the other TV shows on other stations.

  23. Jana says:

    Fans of the remaining Duggars, continue to contact TLC and sponsors to keep the show!

  24. Jana says:

    Keep the show in some form. Take Josh off for now. No need to punish the entire family or their fans.

  25. Helen l Wimberley says:

    19kids n counting is my. Favorite show. Please don’t take it off the air.I just love the Duggars ..The best program on the air. Please allow them. To. Come back on. I am so depressed about this situation a good family pogrom. Please allow to come back. I want to see Jill’s baby grow up and Jessas delivery plus Josh’s 4th child. I love Jimbob and Michelle. PLEASE ALLOW THEIR SHOW TO GO ON

    • Meaniebird says:

      Josh molested four of his sisters and another person. He molested his five year old sister on multiple occasions. The parent covered this up and did not get the victims any help. That makes them worse than Josh. Duggars equals amoral and disgusting hypocrites. They only care about their reputation and staying on TV. NOTHING they can do from this point on can make up for letting their girls be repeatedly molested NOTHING.

  26. Greg says:

    a child molester is a child molester. The cover up by the Duggar clan is repulsive and any part of the show should never see the light of day again,

  27. Pauline Burch says:


  28. Mary Ely says:

    all who are without sin, cast the first stone.

    • May says:

      God spare from all the biblical quotes. Your religious beliefs are not a justification for wrongdoing and bets you wouldn’t be so forgiving of such behavior from ‘nonbelievers.

    • Sandy says:

      Give me a rock.
      Josh is a PEDOPHILE of the first order, a child abuser who commuted incest with his 4 sisters. His parents coddled and protected him, at the expense of his sisters.
      Don’t even start with the Bible quotes. They count for nothing in an appropriate court of law.
      Faith in God is superlative. But not if it is BLIND.

    • Max says:

      Actually., the anger is less abut a teenage Josh with serious issues than the parents complete failure in protecting the victims as well as getting Josh the help he so badly needed until he molested another girl a year later. then there is the lying, coverup, failure to report and on and on. As far as wholesome- do some research. This family is one step away from prairie dresses and a walled compound.

    • lucyjonl says:

      The duggars have been casting stones for years…at innocent people. They did the judging, this scandal is the “lest ye be judged” consequence.

  29. Clarknt67 says:

    Few of the activists lobbying advertisers asked or cared if they pulled ads from other shows. The goal is less about hurting TLC but hurting the profits they make off 19 Kids. After 60 advertisers have pledged not to run ads on 19 Kids TLC might as well run a test pattern for all the money the show will earn them. The author here is moving the goalposts to a place no one was asking them to go. 19 Kids is all but buried, the franchise all but valueless to TLC. The campaign is a success.

  30. Bud Mor says:

    This article is ridiculous. Why would it only make sense for a network to pull advertising from all of a network just because it has a problem with one show. It makes some sense to pull advertising from this show because of the involvement of an alleged rapist.

    Why should other shows on TLC be punished because one of the 19-kids is an alleged rapist? Did TLC know about the rape allegations and hid it? Did other shows support the alleged rapist?

    So if one person working at “Variety” makes a mistake, then all advertisers should pull funding from “Variety”?

    Very poor journalism.

    • Wayne says:

      If the network continues to air the program than it would, indeed, be a rational decision. If an employee was accused of this and it was a founded accusation, they would suspend them or let them go. If they didn’t act appropriately and this person was enriched by that program, then it would be perfectly reasonable to pull all advertising from Variety because they didn’t make a responsible decision. The same would apply to TLC. I find the program’s thst the network runs doesn’t enrich anyone’s life except the person(s) starring on their show. In fact, I think that they encourage people to make irresponsible decisions and that would include having 19 children.

      • Clarknt67 says:

        Right. Who cares if General Mills keeps advertising on Cake Boss? No reason to hurt that show for the crimes of the Duggar family.

    • Zatique says:

      I came to the comments to make exactly that same point. Thanks for saving me some typing.

    • Brian Steinberg says:

      Thanks for the comments, Bud, btut I think you are missing some important points: 1) While the advertisers have said they are pulling away from ’19 Kids,’ they cannot, because the show has not been on TLC since May. 2) they have not taken any ad money off the network…..So that all begs the question: What exactly ARE they doing? They say they aren’t supporting the show, but the show is not on the air. And all their money promised to TLC and Discovery is still there…..which means their press statements don’t have a lot behind them. They haven’t done anything to distance themselves from the show other than making a press announcement…..Hope that helps. All best

      • anbudmor says:

        Brian, your own reply and your article point to a catch-22 of sorts that you are creating. The advertisers can’t withdraw ads from the show as it is not on. What would you have them do? Again, why should they withdraw support from other innocent TLC shows? Surely their statements are very useful in that they are showing they won’t support another season in the future or repeats which I would assume are planned for the summer; and so the statement are actually meaningful.

        I really don’t know what you’d have them do, other than what they did. Perhaps you could clarify that.

      • Brian Steinberg says:

        Bud, the story simply points out that the advertiser backlash is not as strong as one might think, And since TLC is contemplating returning the series to the air without Josh Duggar and with a focus on other members of the family, this sort of action bears watching. Ad support for the show may be easier to find than one might think…

      • Clarknt67 says:

        They have sent a message to TLC if the network resumes production (which is clearly an outcome they hope for) they will have a hard time getting any advertisers to sponsor the airing of the show. The more advertisers the higher the price TLC can charge for a slot. Few advertisers the less money it makes. And clearly with 60 advertisers pulling out anyone does doesn’t knows they are risking great backlash. This show is over.

  31. MarinDem says:

    Let’s keep am eye on those titans of industry who claim ethical superiority via press release manipulation of the media. I am OK if they still want to support many of the great Discovery Communications programs I enjoy, but will boycott any product made by any corporation that continues to support the homophobic family that claims LGBT community families are not healthy while they hide their sick secrets and make a mockery of The Bible. Down with The Duggers and Out with their 19 and Counting television show. Thank YOU Brian and please keep us informed on the inside dealings of Discovery Communications. The LGBT community and other people oppressed by the hypocritical words and actions of the Duggers will respond appropriately.

    • Mike says:

      How many of you are Ethical? How many of you don’t have a bad relative in the closet ? or you are hiding something? I have watched them for years and I really haven’t so much seen them cast a stone other than talk about their lifestyle for their family, I would much rather hear theirs than hear about Whoopee Goldberg’s or Bruce the Goose Transmission job, Where has our Country went to ? do we have more bad people than good? it seems so, that everyone is hiding something and looking for everyone else’s problems, I think they need to kick Josh off the show but why punish the rest of the family ?
      This has been a Left Wing Media Attack on this family and it makes me sick

      • JRB says:

        Seriously??!!! The job that Josh took in Washington D.C. had everything to do with discrimination against LGBT. He made his life’s work to judge them in the media and in legislation. He was a lobbyist for his group. His mother was against transgender using women’s bathrooms and facilities because they are a danger to females. Do some research. He may not have been a rapist or pedophile, but he IS a self proclaimed child molester. If the media coverage on the family makes you sick, your sense of ethics is out of whack. You should be outraged by the molestation, I know I am. I liked watching the Duggars. They lost me as a viewer on this tho. They knew what he did was criminal, but they chose to cover it up until he nor they could be prosecuted for it and are now threatening a lawsuit against the very police department that destroyed the original documents.

        As for the advertisers, just move the money to other programs on the network. If they put The Duggars back on with the same advertisers, they will lose me as a customer.

        As for TLC, they have good programs and awful ones, but if you pull programming off for one family with similar problems and not pull the other just because it pays more, I think certain people may have a legitimate lawsuit claim. They will also lose me as a watcher too. Crimes against children cannot be tolerated.

      • meeeeeee says:

        I can assure you that whatever I may be hiding wouldn’t require lifelong therapy for any other human being. I don’t believe little secrets and molestation are the same thing, but keep reaching. Where has our country gone, indeed. There are more people willing to overlook abuse and the subsequent coverup of said abuse, for a tv show. God doesn’t want his followers worshiping false idols, so I’d work on that, fans of this show.

      • Clarknt67 says:

        How many of us would cover for a relative who was molesting kids? Not many. We would contact the authorities.

  32. Hope they don’t return. No one should support them. They just need to go live privately

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