Ford, Sears Top Parent’s Television Council’s Annual ‘Best’ Advertisers List – American Express Ranked ‘Worst’

By Lucas Zellers | November 28, 2011 | 1:28pm EST

(AP Photo.)

( --  Ford, Sears, and Proctor & Gamble round out the top three “Best Advertisers” of  2011, while American Express, General Motors, and Target are among the worst, according to a new report by the Parents Television Council (PTC).

The report lists the “Top Ten Best and Worst Advertisers” of 2011, ranking companies according to the prime time broadcast advertising time they bought over the past year.  The PTC assigned the companies a point value based on the programs they supported, according to the PTC’s “traffic light” rating system.

The “traffic light’ system ranks television programs as green, yellow, or red based on the amount and frequency of sex, violence, and language they contain.  Points were added to companies when their products appeared on green-lighted shows, and deducted when they appeared on red-lighted shows.

Melissa Henson, director of communications and public education at PTC, said the report has an impact on both consumers and companies.

“All other choices being equal, if you have the ability to go with a company that supports your values, that upholds values you believe in, then we would hope people would make their buying decisions accordingly,” Henson told in a phone interview.

(AP Photo.)

“They [the companies] are working hard to protect their brand and protect the corporate image they’ve built over the years,” Henson said.  “Doing the right thing in many cases is a great hardship for some of these companies, so any bit of recognition goes a long way.”

On the other hand, she said, “Those companies that are helping to pay for and fund some of the worst, most irresponsible content should be called on the carpet for it.”

(Disclosure: The founder and a current board member of the PTC is L. Brent Bozell III, the president of the Media Research Center, which is the parent organization of

The PTC’s “Top Ten Best and Worst Advertisers” for the 2010-11 television season are as follows:

The Best:

1. Ford
2. Sears
3. Procter & Gamble (Pampers, Tide, Crest, Downy, Febreze)
4. CVS Pharmacy
5. Visa
6. Enterprise Rent-A-Car
7. General Mills (Betty Crocker, Cheerios, Pillsbury, Old El Paso) and Kellogg (Rice Krispies, Cheez-It, Keebler, Nutri-Grain) (tied)
8. SC Johnson (Pledge, Windex, Shout, Glade, Off!)
9. Walmart
10. Clorox, Coca-Cola and Wendy's (tied)

The Worst:

1. American Express
2. General Motors
3. Target
4. Toyota
5. Victoria's Secret
6. L’Oreal (L’Oreal, Maybelline, Redken, Lancome)
7. McDonald's
8. AT&T
9. Sprint and Verizon (tied)
10. Burlington Industries

The PTC report was weighted for appearances on green-lighted shows because those shows are relatively infrequent and require more commitment on the part of the advertising companies.

“Sometimes companies end up on red-lighted shows because of make-goods, sometimes they buy locations or blocks of time or channels, so they don’t always have absolute control over where their ads appear . . . so it’s all the more meaningful when they do give their agency strict guidelines and say, we absolutely do not want to be associated with x program or x content,” said Henson.

Sears moved all the way up from being ranked at number 10 on the “Best and Worst” list that the PTC published in 2010.  Ford and Proctor & Gamble moved up from ranks 6 and 7, respectively.

The Parents Television Council is a grassroots organization that works with television producers, broadcasters, and lawmakers to enforce broadcast decency standards and “stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children,” according to its website.  The organization has more than 1.3 million members.

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