Big-Name Advertisers Suspend Ties to ‘O’Reilly Factor’ Following Sexual Harassment Charges

Bill O'Reilly
AP

A large number of prominent advertisers said on Monday and Tuesday they had taken steps to ensure their commercials would not run on Fox News Channel’s “O’Reilly Factor” for the foreseeable future in the wake of revelations disclosed over the weekend of several claims of sexual harassment being made against the host in recent years.

“The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now,” said Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications for Mercedes Benz USA, in a statement. The automaker will instead run advertising elsewhere on the 21st Century Fox-owned outlet, she said.

Hyundai said in a statement that it is “reallocating” commercials that were slated to air in the program “due to the recent and disturbing allegations. As a company we seek to partner with companies and programming that share our values of inclusion and diversity. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as we plan future advertising decisions.”

In a statement, BMW of North America said it had “suspended its advertising with “The O’Reilly Factor.”’ The automaker said it had made “no decisions regarding reallocation and whether or not the inventory will stay with Fox News.”

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that five women had received payments coming to about $13 million in exchange for agreeing not to pursue litigation or speak about accusations related to sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by Bill O’Reilly, the veteran Fox News broadcaster who is the linchpin of the network’s primetime lineup. O’Reilly in a statement said his fame had made him a target, but that no complaint about him had ever been made through Fox’s human-resources hotline.

Other marketers suggested they were working to keep their ads off the long-running news program for a time. “Inclusivity and support for women are important Allstate values. We are concerned about the issues surrounding the program and we have suspended our advertising,” insurance company Allstate said in a statement.

“The controversy around ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ program and allegations made against Bill O’Reilly are matters that we take seriously and will continue to monitor. We do not endorse the behavior or opinions of program hosts or the content,” said Sanofi US in a statement. The company intends to place it ads elsewhere on the network, a spokeswoman said. “We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as we plan future advertising decisions.”

T. Rowe Price said that its executives “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.’” Mitsubishi Motors said the company “takes these allegations very seriously and we have decided that we will pull our advertising at the present time. We will continue to monitor this situation as we assess our long-term strategy.” Ainsworth Pet Nutrition said it “removed our advertising from the program because of these recent disturbing allegations.” A spokeswoman for the company, Samantha Bridger, said executives were “monitoring” the situation, but had not pulled ads from Fox News Channel in general.

The network’s senior ad-sales executive, Paul Rittenberg, who announced in February that he would step down from his job, said in a statement that the advertisers in question had moved their dollars into other Fox News programs. “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the ‘O’Reilly Factor,'” he said.

The cable-news outlet is involved in other controversies. On Tuesday,  a third Fox News employee, Monica Douglas, joined a racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the network last week by two female African-American employees.

The National Organization of Women on Tuesday called for the anchor to be fired. “The culture of sexual harassment at Fox News must stop,” the advocacy organization said in a statement.

The advertisers appear to be using a tactic that is common when Madison Avenue wishes  to avoid negative publicity associated with a particular program, but in fact likes the results  derived from advertising on the network that shows it.

In mid-2015, a number of marketers including General Mills, Yum Brands’ Pizza Hut, PepsiCo’s Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Choice Hotels and Crayola LLC all publicly stated they had removed their commercials from “19 Kids and Counting,” a TLC reality show that spotlighted the Duggar family in light of news that the oldest boy in the family had sexually assaulted teenage girls. But none of the sponsors pulled their ad dollars previously earmarked for TLC or other properties owned by its parent, Discovery Communications.

And yet, the steady drumbeat of sponsors pulling away from the show could make others nervous. In 2007, a number of advertisers, including Procter & Gamble, decided to make sure their ads stopped appearing during MSNBC’s morning broadcasts of radio host Don Imus’ program on that network after he made racist remarks about the Rutgers University women’s basketball team. Some of those ads turned up during the Imus broadcast as part of a “run of schedule” buy that gave the network some freedom to place the commercial during a span of hours on its daytime schedule. But P&G yanked its commercials from the network, even as others simply insisted their ads no longer appear during the Imus program. MSNBC canceled its Imus telecast within only a few days of Procter’s decision.

Advertiser behavior can certainly affect programming decisions. 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. At the time, it was widely believed 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.

One media-buying executive suggested O’Reilly’s primetime program was not comparable to Imus’ morning program: O’Reilly’s ratings are far stronger, this buyer said. This executive also suggested advertisers tend to tilt conservative in their views on business matters and other issues, and probably feel comfortable advertising on Fox News Channel in general.

Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” fetched $178.5 million in advertising in 2015, and $118.6 million for the first nine months of 2016, according to Kantar Media. But its top sponsors in recent times have been direct-response marketers and pharmaceutical manufacturers. In the first nine months of last year, the biggest spending sponsors on “O’Reilly Factor” were Rosland Capital, a buyer of gold, silver, and precious metals; My Pillow, a pillow manufacturer whose TV commercials have become ubiquitous on many networks; Furniture Feet, a type of floor-protection pad; Prevagen, a brain-health supplement; and Pfizer Inc.,, the large pharmaceutical corporation.

O’Reilly made no mention of the controversy on his program Monday night, and a large number of both traditional and direct-response commercials accompanied a typical edition of his program. Advertisers included Claritin, PCMatic.com, Jenny Craig, and John Deere.

[Updated, 3:15 PM PT, 4/4]

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  1. David Bothe says:

    This is all Bullshit! Obviously a concerted effort to silence one of the only conservative voices. Where was the outrage with Slick Willy?? Fox has lost my business. I foresee their rating plummet. I believe we have not heard the last of Mr. O’reilly……Remember he’s Irish… get ready for old fashion tussle.

    • You mean Bill Clinton 20 years ago? Why does that matter now?

      Oh, and since you obviously haven’t read real news in 20 years, Republicans tried to impeach Bill Clinton. That’s known as outage.

  2. jboothby says:

    I bought a new hyundai in 2005. Never again.

  3. El He says:

    I think FOX will regret forcing out Bill O’Reilly, as will the advertisers who deserted him.
    For James Murdoch to suddenly become he voice of ethics and morality is laughable.
    Amidst the UK hacking scandal, James’ forced resignation from his father’s UK empire makes
    what he’s done to Ailes and O’Reilly laughable. Here’s hoping Bill has the right lawyers and
    sues the pants off him. Of course, the obvious problem is James will probably get to hide behind Fox (or his Daddy). If it’s Fox and O’Reilly gets them, perhaps the shareholders would have
    a lawsuit. It’s high time James is called to account.

  4. Pat D. says:

    Fox is crazy for letting their #1 Host go on a bunch of hearsay. He is responsible for building up Fox News from their early days. He is a good & honest man & always tried to show both sides of the story in a very intelligent way. We are not lemmings running off a cliff. Instead his audience is made up of people who are given information to think about and decide which way we choose to stand on the many issues our country has and does face! He is a Patriot! It’s too bad the real lemmings can gang up on anyone, threaten a boycott & ruin a persons life!

  5. JOSEPH L KOLONSKY says:

    Lemmings running for a cliff to jump from , pathetic !

  6. Joan Knorr says:

    Where do these women come from?
    They have top jobs, great commercial opportunities…everything we have fought for over time…
    but, they are spoiled! They are only interested in ‘eating men alive’ taking their success from them, Thes are women who dress provocatively,(cleveage,legs, thighs w/gorgeous makeup to put themselves ‘out there’ , So unprofessional!
    I am a business women, told I am ‘a beauty’… but never once had to stoop to this.
    In my opinion, the envy his $$$ and want a piece of the pie, so they stoop to the LISA BLOOM< ALLRIGHT, attorney's greed.
    I's a smear, it's a degrading place they place all professional women.
    Get Over It! Despicable Women! No Respect for any of them… .

  7. Jinxi Richow says:

    It will be an immense, immeasurable pleasure to watch Bill O’Reilly, that lying sack of bovine gastric byproducts, fall to Earth and make a yuuuuge Caucasian crater.

    And if the pervert’s demise is indeed imminent, then you can trust the liars at Fox Fake News to put spin on his disgusting behavior and blame the liar’s scumbaggery on a black President … and which black President do these right wing fools ALWAYS have ‘prepped and ready to blame?’

  8. john says:

    I’m not impressed. If these advertisers truly care about O’Reilly’s serial sexual harassment then stop advertising on Fox or at least Fox News until this pervert is fired. Otherwise it’s nothing but a publicity stunt.

  9. Tim says:

    I’m selling my Mercedes sad but true after buying many and loving them u can no longer deal with these German companies playing in us politics
    Perhaps I should comment on Merkel! No I know my place

  10. heyitsron says:

    Someone’s organizing this. They don’t magically dine at the same trough. And cough all at once. In unison. Wouldn’t it be great to ferret out who it is? Criminally prosecute and see jail time, real jail time, for whomever has stirred up the pot. Let the man say what he wants. Do what he wants. There’re a lot of things about him that I disagree with. But not enough to sabotage him or his show. To commit illegal acts that are so criminally disposed by attempting to not regulate but destroy the marketplace just because you can. No, I’m not a Bill O’Reilly fan. Watch him less often. But it is a voice. Whether you like it or not. The same with Cooper. And who likes him? When we begin to kill viewpoints we have 100% communist dictatorship. And there those out there trying their best to make you, to force you, to want to do this. And some of you, maybe a few of you, would be surprised to know who they are.

    • John Bryant says:

      Past sexual harassment investigations show that when one accuser comes out it encourages others who are afraid to do so. Not to mention the revelation that Fox has been paying off others for years is more the problem I would guess. It shows they know and don’t care. If that was all secret, then one woman getting paid off wouldn’t make others come forward. You do realize communism wasn’t exclusive to the concept of censorship. Fascism is just as guilt. Not to mention, dictatorships do it regardless of their political bent. Communist, Fascist or otherwise. Also, there is no law prohibiting getting people with legitimate complaints to come forward. Only if the claims were all false and considering how quiet Fox is on all this, when they normally are quite loud about disputing such charges, they are probably true.

  11. Russian Hacker says:

    To me all this “liberals” and “conservatives” nonsense is the same thing. American and British mainstream media is all a bunch of drivel regardless if it is right or left. MSM is entirely Fake News! Stop watching CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, and every other mainstream online “news” sources, these are all channels to mold you into an obedient servant for the globalist NWO. [“Oooh you conspiracy theorist!” – yeah, yeah what else would you expect from a Russian Hacker? The Clinton News Network is out to get me!]

  12. Larry Rumsey says:

    Did I miss something? After reading this article, all I learned is that “disturbing” allegations came to light in recent years about Bill O’Reilly and a couple sponsors left, but were probably immediately replaced. Allegations of what exactly, and by whom? Have any of these allegations been proven true? News articles today seem to have no substance, especially if they are against Trump or Fox News.

  13. Stan Angel says:

    While I do not agree with much of Mr O’ Reilly’s politics let me say that this debacle couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. 12 years ago he was at odds with my hometown, San Francisco, over a political difference of opinion and he said, ” The next time the Taliban or another extremist group wants to attack an American city, let’s suggest San Francisco”. For me , to suggest that any American group or city be targeted is appalling. And , for the record, Mr. O’ Reilly better hope he never runs into me on the street. I love my city.

  14. Reed Smith says:

    Now will advertisers show the same courage over at CNN to protest all the racial discrimination suits that are emerging?

  15. Brent says:

    If these advertisers had any morals they’d altogether avoid a network so clearly in the bag for Trump. Comical and SCARY watching Fox News twist itself into ideological pretzels in support of Trump. Watching the degree of misdirection and lies spewing from Fox News over the years its easy to see how so many people could continue to be deceived by the greatest con in history.

    At least Wallace had the chutzpah to take Pruitt to task. Fox News you need more Wallace and less O’Reilly/Hannity or you’ll be sucked into the giant swamp ridden black hole called the Trump administration. Trump was right about draining the swamp he just didn’t realize he would suck all the swamp critters in and take them all down with him.

  16. As if there aren’t plenty of other companies willing to take advantage of the show’s/network’s ratings.

    • Baruch says:

      Wayne worsham (@1000worsh) says:

      “As if there aren’t plenty of other companies willing to take advantage of the show’s/network’s ratings.”

      And those companies will then lose business.

  17. wouldn’t it be nice if there were articles highlighting which advertisers have so far stayed loyal to the big guy?

  18. MarcusMerkin says:

    Fox is the original “fake news” media. Their support in Ailes, O’Reilly and tRUMP is very telling.

  19. Betsy says:

    Funny, I looked at Fox News and didn’t see anything on this! Did I miss it? Good for you Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW! Thank you, I own 2 BMW’s.

  20. The Truth says:

    It’s been common knowledge for years inside the industry that Bill O’Reilly is a sexist sleazebag. But his brainless following delivers such robust ratings for Fox — he’s the network’s number one cash cow — that Fox’s “leadership” has repeatedly chosen to disregard multiple episodes of sexual harassment that have resulted in $13 MM in settlement awards to the women involved.

    O’Reilly’s contention that he settled all these “false claims” against him to “protect his children” is about as convincing as Sean Spicer’s daily tap dance. Does Bill seem like the type who would allow himself to be shaken down at least five times that we know of? The notion that innocent celebrities routinely pay off nuisance suits is largely a self-serving myth. Settlement is a strategy to avoid going to court when your case is crappy.

    It’s high time Bill was shown the door at Fox. Perhaps then he could focus full time on pushing those bestselling books he doesn’t write.

  21. Rex says:

    O’Reilly’s fame didn’t make him a target. It made him entitled. Typical conservative mouthpiece. Nothing but a filthy sleazebag behind it all. Hope that permanently smug face is off the tube for good soon.

  22. greg marotta says:

    Who is the biggest manufacturer of loofahs? Maybe they can pick up the slack.

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