Fox News opinion anchors are known for pushing the limits to both entertain and engage their audiences. One of the most successful in recent years has been Tucker Carlson, whose deadpan delivery, often accompanied by expressions of shock and disbelief, have captured the attention of a significant nightly audience.
However, recent comments by Carlson have begun to cost his Fox-based program both viewers and big-name advertisers. Brands such as Disney, Papa John’s, Poshmark, and T-Mobile, distanced themselves from connections with Carlson’s show after the host made some comments about the BLM protests that some found to be problematic.
The move isn’t surprising for these brands. Disney is always very protective of its brand image, and both Papa John’s and T-Mobile are dealing with none-too-distant PR problems of their own. They don’t need guilt by association as they’re trying to reconnect with customers.
And what were the comments that created the uproar? During a segment recently, Carlson was commenting on protests and riots, saying, “This may be a lot of things, this moment we’re living through… But it is definitely not about black lives… remember that when they come for you. At this rate, they will…”
Media watchdog groups called the comments “extremely racist scaremongering…” and challenged certain big brands by name for a response. T-Mobile was one of the first to respond, saying their ads would not run on his program in the future. The mobile carrier’s chief executive added a personal tweet, saying, “Bye-bye Tucker Carlson!”
In response to losing ad revenue, Carlson tried to walk back his comments in a follow up statement, clarifying that he was not talking about protesters. He was talking about Democratic leaders. “No matter what they tell you, it has very little to do with black lives… If only it did.”
Meanwhile, Disney said it had contacted its ad agency, telling them to stop placing ads with Carlson’s program, and Papa John’s released a statement saying its agency had been directed to stop advertising on TV news opinion shows altogether, even thought, as a company statement read: “(Papa John’s) placement of advertising is not intended to be an endorsement of any specific programming or commentary…”
Steven Young, the CMO of Poshmark, was more specific about his company’s reasons for no longer advertising on Tucker Carlson Tonight, telling the media: “We do not agree with the comments (Carlson) made on his show and (we) stand in solidarity with those who seek to advance racial justice and equality…”
Asked about the impact on the network, Fox said in most cases advertising pulled from Carlson’s show has landed somewhere else on the network programming, meaning the company itself is not suffering considerable, if any, ill effects.