“The O’Reilly Factor” is facing a growing advertiser revolt, as 21 companies have pulled their commercials from the show amid a scandal involving the host, Bill O’Reilly.
Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, BMW of North America, Mitsubishi Motors, Lexus, Constant Contact, Bayer, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Orkin, UNTUCKit, Allstate, Esurance (which is owned by Allstate), T. Rowe Price, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Credit Karma, Wayfair, The Wonderful Company, TrueCar, the Society for Human Resource Management and Coldwell Banker are pulling ads from “The O’Reilly Factor” after a report about five settlements with women who alleged sexual harassment or verbal abuse by O’Reilly.
The decisions signal the potential of financial damage for “The O’Reilly Factor,” the most popular show on cable news, and its network, Fox News.
Paul Rittenberg, the executive vice president of advertising sales at Fox News, addressed the exodus in a statement on Tuesday.
“We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor,” Rittenberg said. “At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
The statement indicates that the companies’ decisions to withdraw ads from the program have not yet hurt Fox’s bottom line — but the loss of advertisers is at the very least a public relations problem for the network and its most valuable asset.
Companies began announcing their decision to pull out of “The O’Reilly Factor” Monday evening. On Tuesday, a trickle of announcements quickly turned into a wave.
Hyundai said early Tuesday that it is not currently advertising on “The O’Reilly Factor” but will remove upcoming ads because of the “recent and disturbing allegations.”
“We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as we plan future advertising decisions,” the company said.
Mercedes-Benz used similar language on Monday when it pulled its own ads.
“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,” spokeswoman Donna Boland told CNNMoney.
BMW of North America announced Tuesday that it was also suspending its ads on “The O’Reilly Factor.” And the investment firm T.Rowe Price said Tuesday afternoon that it had decided to pull its upcoming ads from the program in light of the new allegations.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that settlements totaling $13 million had been reached with five women who accused O’Reilly of inappropriate behavior.
O’Reilly did not address the Times report on his show Monday night. In a statement over the weekend, Fox News’ parent company 21st Century Fox said it “takes matters of workplace behavior very seriously” but stood by O’Reilly. It also said none of the women used a company hotline to report improper behavior.
One of the women, Wendy Walsh, told CNN on Monday night that she was not out for money. “I just want a nontoxic work environment for my daughters and their generation,” she told Don Lemon.
The three car companies that pulled ads from the “Factor” were eventually followed by several others.
Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, the parent company of the Rachael Ray-partnered dog food brand Nutrish, said it “removed our advertising from the program because of these recent and disturbing allegations.”
The clothing company UNTUCKit said in a statement it was pulling its ads from the “O’Reilly Factor,” noting that two-thirds of its employees are women.
“Moreover, it is important our corporate partners reflect the same principals of inclusivity and equality upon which we have built our brand,” the statement said. “In light of the disturbing allegations, we instructed our media buyer this morning to reallocate our ad dollars to other shows effective immediately. We will continue to closely monitor the situation but believe this is the right decision at this time.”
In announcing that it was suspending its advertising on the “O’Reilly Factor,” the insurance giant Allstate said it was “concerned about the issues surrounding the program” and that “inclusivity and support for women” are important company values.
Social media users began to pressure other companies to follow suit Tuesday. The car-buying website TrueCar responded to several angry messages on Twitter with assurances that it had instructed its media buyer “to direct our advertising to other programming.”
Another organization, the Society for Human Resource Management, said on Twitter that it had decided to “cease its advertising on the Fox News Network.”
Late Tuesday night brought another Twitter announcement, with Coldwell Banker saying it was “disappointed” its ad aired during the “O’Reilly Factor,” and that “it wasn’t part of our intentional media programming.” The real estate company said it also pulled future ads from the show.
A spokeswoman for the digital marketing company Constant Contact said it, too, was yanking its ads.
“Based on the recent allegations and our strong commitment to inclusion, respect and tolerance in the workplace, we have decided to pull Constant Contact’s ads from The O’Reilly Factor,” the spokeswoman said, noting that ads could continue to run on the program through Tuesday evening.