Rush Limbaugh’s statements against Sandra Fluke are causing Limbaugh no end of controversy and producing some blow-back for advertisers as well. There’s just one problem: Some of the companies being fingered as supporters aren’t signed on as sponsors for his show. Case in point, Netflix.
The problem is like the old saying: A lie can be halfway around the world before the truth has its boots on. Look on Twitter, and you can see plenty of people taking Netflix to task without actually researching to see if the company does support Limbaugh.
Netflix is a company that’s had its share of PR problems in the last year. To some extent, I’ve felt that the company was getting saddled with some unfair criticism, but I admit – I was ready to cancel my subscription as well when I read that Netflix was advertising with Limbaugh’s show.
But before I pulled the plug, I decided to check in with Netflix to verify that the company really is a sponsor. Turns out, not so much.
Netflix’s vice president of corporate communications, Steve Swasey, shot me a statement from the company less than an hour after I touched base with the company:
Netflix has not and does not purchase advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show. We do buy network radio advertising and have confirmed that two Netflix spots were picked up in error around the Rush Limbaugh show. We have instructed our advertising agency to make sure that this error will not happen again.
How does this happen? A lot of things come into play with radio advertising. I’m not sure of the actual chain of events in this case, but it’s pretty easy for ads to run during a show that the advertiser doesn’t specifically support. Some ads are to be run at any time, other times ads are run to fill time. (Though this is probably less an issue during Limbaugh’s show.)
Sometimes ads simply get put into the wrong slot by the traffic folks or there’s an error by the person running the board for the show.
Whatever the case, Netflix is pretty emphatic about not advertising with Limbaugh’s show. So if you were planning on modifying your Netflix subscription based on that, you can act accordingly.
This is also a cautionary tale for users and companies alike. The folks who’ve been organizing the advertiser boycott for Limbaugh have been going on what ads are broadcast during the show – which may not always be an accurate indicator that the company actually supports Limbaugh’s show. Unless someone’s actually contacted the company in question, there’s a chance they’ve been lumped in through circumstances outside their control.
For companies, it pays to be quick to respond and to choose advertisers carefully. While Netflix isn’t one of the show’s supporters, other tech companies like Carbonite have taken some unwanted heat this week.