Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai both announced that they would not run advertisements on “The O’Reilly Factor,” after news broke that host Bill O’Reilly and the Fox News network have paid out roughly $13 million to settle sexual harassment and verbal abuse claims five different women made against O’Reilly over the years. Both companies described the allegations against O’Reilly as “disturbing.” Within 24 hours of Mercedes’ initial announcement, six other companies in addition to Hyundai made similar announcements.
CNNMoney reported on April 3 that Donna Boland, a manager of corporate communications at Mercedes-Benz, said in a statement that “[Mercedes-Benz] had advertising running on The O’Reilly Factor (we run on most major cable news shows) and it has been reassigned in the midst of this controversy. 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.”
Later that evening, Hyundai Motor Company emailed a statement to the New York Times saying “Hyundai currently has no advertising running on The O’Reilly Factor. We had upcoming advertising spots on the show but are reallocating them 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.”
Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai made their announcements on a Monday, and by Tuesday afternoon more than half a dozen other companies had followed suit: BMW of North America, GlaxoSmithKline, Allstate, online marketer Constant Contact, men’s clothing distributor Untuckit, Sanofi Consumer Healthcare (which sells such products as ACT mouthwash and Gold Bond powder), and Ainsworth Pet Nutrition (which sells Rachael Ray’s branded Nutrish pet food).
By the end of Tuesday business hours on the east coast, the number of companies to pull ads from O’Reilly had surpassed a dozen: Bayer, Lexus, Mitsubishi and investment service T. Rowe Price all came out with similar announcements. By Tuesday evening, the number had swelled to 20, including Credit Karma, Wayfair, Orkin, Esurance, The Wonderful Company, TrueCar, and the Society for Human Resource Management.
Paul Rittenberg, the Executive Vice President of Advertising Sales for Fox News, said this in a statement emailed to Heavy: “We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor. At this time, the ad buys of those clients have been re-expressed into other FNC programs.”
O’Reilly is far from the first media personality to lose advertising support after allegations of scandal. In the summer of 2015, several companies including General Mills, Choice Hotels, Pizza Hut and Crayola pulled advertising from TLC’s program “19 Kids and Counting,” the show featuring Jim and Michelle Duggar plus their unusually large number of children, after reports surfaced that their oldest child, Josh Duggar, had molested young girls 12 years before.
Last November, multiple companies including food manufacturer Kellogg, AARP, 3M and Vanguard announced that they would stop advertising on Breitbart.com, after a social media outcry against the website’s allegedly racist and misogynistic content. Also that month, the digital ad platform AppNexus announced that it would ban Breitbart from using its ad-serving tools on the site.