Megyn Kelly aired her interview with right-wing provocateur and conspiracy-monger Alex Jones on Sunday night. And a number of big name advertisers were conspicuously absent from the ad roster of the anchor’s new newsmagazine show.
According to data crunched by TV ad analytics company iSpot.tv, the third episode of Kelly’s show “Sunday Night with Megyn Kelly” featuring Jones carried noticeably fewer national advertisers than the previous two episodes. While the first episode had 39 national advertisers and the second had 36, last night’s controversial episode had only 29.
Ads for several big-name advertisers, including McDonald’s, Bank of America and Kia, which took the stage and aired national ads during the first two episodes on June 4 and June 11, did not run during the June 18 episode. This follows JPMorgan Chase coming out strongly against the Jones interview last week, asking for its local TV and digital ads to be removed from NBC and anchor Megyn Kelly’s show until after this Sunday’s episode.
“The numbers show that lesser ads were shown against fewer brands, and against the show’s programming last night than the first two episodes,” said Jason Damata, data analyst for iSpot.tv. “This episode was a bit of a third rail, so it is not surprising that fewer brands were willing to take a risk and put their ads there.”
Sunday’s episode also saw a flurry of public-service announcements, including those from the Ad Council and the United States Marine Corps. Three of the show’s commercial breaks led with PSAs, which as Variety reported, typically run as part of time donated by media companies in less desirable ad inventory. Further, NBC itself ran as many as 13 promos for its own programs, according to iSpot.tv, for programs including “Today” and “America’s Got Talent” among others.
With advertising in America becoming a minefield, brands are increasingly getting more wary of the context of where their messaging shows up, irrespective of the medium. Apart from NBC, Fox News lost advertisers after Sean Hannity promoted a conspiracy theory about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich on his show last month. But not everyone chooses to stay away (Henkel, Head & Shoulders and Allegra were a few major brands that ran ads on Sunday), and neither are these boycotts permanent.
“There is no evidence of any brand leaving advertising on NBC,” said Damata. “You can’t be a TV advertiser and abandon NBC, but you do get a say in where your content shows up.”