Advertisers Stick With CBS Despite Document Flap

July 7, 2008 - 8:22 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Even though CBS News has taken a battering in the media for using allegedly fake military documents on last week's "60 Minutes II" episode, advertisers and CBS affiliates said Wednesday they had no reason to abandon the network.

More than 20 companies advertised their products in either national or local spots during the Sept. 8 broadcast of "60 Minutes II." During that program, CBS News anchor Dan Rather unveiled purported military records casting a negative light on President Bush's National Guard service. Forensic experts and typographers have since called those documents fake.

Some radio talk show hosts and Internet blogs have suggested consumers target CBS advertisers, but spokesmen for the companies whose ads appeared during last week's episode said they had received minimal or no response about the matter.

UPS spokesman Steve Holmes, whose company advertised its UPS Stores during the episode, said advertising placements are made after significant research. He also cautioned that the spots wouldn't be pulled based on the content of one television program.

"Because our advertising placements are very strategic, based on very sound research that we do and studying the demographics of the shows to make sure we're reaching the right target, we're not going to make knee-jerk reactions to things that we see on various shows," Holmes said.

Pepsi Co. spokesman Dave DeCecco said he wasn't aware of any internal discussions about the CBS controversy, which he attributed to a lack of complaints from consumers.

"I get complaints every day about something," DeCecco said. "If there were a significant amount of calls it would turn into a discussion, but it must mean there haven't been a significant number of calls."

Pepsi doesn't typically specify that its ads be placed on "60 Minutes," DeCecco said. Instead, he noted that any number of primetime television shows could feature the commercials. Local advertisers are responsible for some of the spots, he said.

The mobile phone provider Cingular hasn't heard from consumers about the matter either, according to Clay Owen, the company's senior director of public relations. Cingular advertised its calling plan during the show.

Drug companies also hadn't heard complaints as of Wednesday. Spokeswomen for GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Wellbutrin XL, and Novartis, maker of Zelnorm, said their products' commercials didn't trigger a reaction with the public.

Toyota spokesman Xavier Dominicis said his company's commercial for its 4-Runner didn't generate any negative reaction from the public. He also noted the lengthy process when placing commercials on television.

"The ad buy would have been made last year, probably in April," Dominicis said. "It's an overall buy at CBS and it's done well in advance, so we don't have any influence over programming."

Several other car manufactures that advertised didn't return calls Wednesday. Kia, Lincoln and Acura each ran two ads during the program, while Nissan had one spot. CNSNews.com was unable to reach spokesmen for Campbell's Soup Co., which ran two ads, or Kimberly-Clarke, which had two ads for Kleenex during the episode.

Meanwhile, the network's television affiliates downplayed any effect on their sales.

"We really haven't seen any impact, none that I could even talk about," said Laura Stillman, a local sales manager for WRAL in Raleigh, N.C.

"Nothing at all," said Joanne Canelli, a local sales manager for KTHV of Little Rock, Ark. "I haven't seen any [impact] at all."

Even if consumers complained, Holmes of UPS stressed that advertising decisions are made with many factors in mind. He said the company wouldn't make any rash decisions about advertising placements.

"When you're making decisions where you will and will not run your advertising, it's a case-by-case basis," Holmes said. "You know when it's somewhere you don't want to be. It's not just based on whether we like a show or don't like a show. It's based on hard-core research."

See Earlier Story:
'60 Minutes' Documents on Bush Might Be Fake
(Sept. 9, 2004)

E-mail a news tip to Robert B. Bluey.

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