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N.J. companies react to Bill O'Reilly allegations

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Fox News is once again troubled by allegations of sexual harassment, and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, has opened an investigation into the most recent ones against Bill O’Reilly, host of “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Since the news broke in the New York Times earlier this month, at least 70 advertisers have pulled their spots from the program.

That includes heavyweights like automobile, financial and pharmaceutical companies.

In New Jersey, some companies said they did so out of an abundance of caution, while others state unequivocally that they would not advertise based on the allegations clashing with their corporate culture or beliefs.

Phil Kening, a visiting professor at Stockton University’s School of Business, said the perception of those still advertising could be negative.

“Look how quickly Gatorade and Buick dropped Tiger Woods a few years back. The point is that, in these situations, the advertisers feel that there is no reward and some degree of risk to stay on as a sponsor. Today, with fires being fanned by social media, it's just not worth it,” Kening said. “Someone will say that O'Reilly's sponsor companies are run by misogynists, and that opinion will be shared by millions more online.

“I can tell you that advertisers want no part of controversy. They don't want their brands associated in any way with programming that is at odds with whatever the politically correct standard of the time is.”

NJBIZ reached out to advertisers whose U.S. operations are based in New Jersey, based off lists of advertisers compiled by Media Matters and Sleeping Giants — a social media group that launched a post-election campaign to stop companies from advertising on Breitbart News and has since taken on the controversy around “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Here’s what some New Jersey-based companies had to say:

Allergan responded by simply saying it was not advertising on “The O’Reilly Factor.”

Bayer pulled ads based on the allegations, as did the company it is currently trying to acquire, Monsanto.

“Bayer supports a safe, respectful and non-abusive environment for women, and we have reached out to Fox to voice our concerns regarding this matter,” Bayer said in a statement, “Based on the serious nature of these allegations, we have made the decision to suspend all advertising on the program in question. This suspension has been requested immediately and will be handled as expeditiously as possible. We have been informed, however, that programming changes may not become effective immediately. It is important to note that Bayer purchases packages of advertising time across all major networks without selecting placement on any specific program. We regularly evaluate our advertising purchases to make sound judgments to continue or discontinue based upon our beliefs, values and ethical considerations.” 

GlaxoSmithKline said it, too, was concerned by the allegations and pulled advertising.

“We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure it is conducted in a responsible manner aligned with our values.  We have temporarily put a hold on spots running on ‘The O'Reilly Factor’ while we assess this situation,” according to a statement.

Sanofi, which was advertising XYZAL, said it pulled its ads, but stressed the idea that an ad does not necessarily support a program’s or station’s views.

“At Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, decisions about advertising on any given website, network, magazine or programs are never undertaken as an endorsement or non-endorsement of the host, editorial or entertainment content,” a spokesperson said via email. “Rather, our purpose in advertising our product is to provide important information to consumers so that they may make an informed decision about which product will best provide relief for their symptoms. The controversy around ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ program and allegations made against Bill O’Reilly are matters that we take seriously and will continue to monitor. We do not endorse the behavior or opinions of program hosts or the content.  We have reallocated our current advertising originally scheduled during this program. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation as we plan future advertising decisions.”

And Subaru simply stated, “Given the current controversy around Mr. O'Reilly, we decided to withdraw our advertising from the show.”

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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