The "Skins" Boycott: How a Conservative Watchdog Group Alienated Advertisers

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Jan. 24 2011 5:34 PM

The "Skins" Boycott: How a Conservative Watchdog Group Alienated Advertisers

The number of sponsors who have pulled advertising from theraunchy, controversial MTV show Skins now equals five. Afterpressure from conservative watchdogs TheParents Television Council, Wrigley’s, Subway, H&R Block, G.M., andTaco Bell have all have all cried "yikes!" Ironically, just this past October, the New York Times published a convincingarticle about the waninginfluence of the PTC . Last fall, for instance, the PTC tried to force CBSinto changing the title of $#*! My DadSays into something church-lady friendly, to no avail. So why were they so successful in gettingadvertisers to boycott Skins?

For two reasons. One, the advertisers probably did not knowthat their ads were going to air during the sex-and-drugs fueled adolescentdrama. The L.A. Times ’ Joe Flint notes that ads aren’tsold on a show-by-show basis. "Instead, an ad agency or media buyer has anumber of impressions it wants to make, and the networks put commercials in theshows most likely to deliver the best results," Flint explains. It’s not likeTaco Bell specifically asked to be associated with an hour of under-18s smokingweed and visiting prostitutes.

Advertisement

The second reason for PTC’s success is that MTVhasn’t defended the show . According to John Rash, a columnist and editorialwriter at the Star Tribune and aprofessor of mass media and politics at the University of Minnesota, whatusually happens when groups like the PTC protest controversial shows is thatthe network will push back and deny that there’s a problem. That hasn’thappened here. Instead, MTV has held frantic meetings about cutting the sexiestscenes from Skins forfear that they might violate child pornography statutes . Rash calls thismove a "more powerful indictment" than any statement the PTC could make.

I’m with Slate ’s TV critic Troy Patterson on this one: I don’t think the show will be responsible for corrupting any ofAmerica’s precious youth. But I can also understand why H&R Block might notwant to have potential customers associate their brand with a teenage girloverdosing on a trampoline.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.