Glenn Beck of the Fox News Channel has attracted considerable attention lately, not necessarily for what he has said, but for the advertising boycott of his show. Apple CEO Steve Jobs was the latest to sign his company up for the boycott. Whether it has truly had an adverse affect on Beck and Fox from a financial point of view is yet to be seen, but the boycott seems to have had little effect on their ratings which remains strong. It even seems the greater the outcry against Beck, the greater his numbers rise as more people tune in just out of curiosity as to what all the hubbub is about. This makes you wonder if boycotting truly works or if it can backfire on you.
In some cases, boycotting can indeed have a significant impact on a company. If it is generally believed a company is unfair, then, Yes, a boycott will undoubtedly succeed and force a company to change its policies. However, as in the Beck case, the motivation of those calling for the boycott is highly questionable. Here, it is NOT generally accepted the Beck program is unfair, but rather the opinion of his political opponents. And herein lies the Achilles' Heel of this particular boycott and why it will backfire in the face of the organizers. Both sides, left and right, recognize this as nothing more than a political scheme to discredit Beck. If anything, the boycott is causing him to gain strength and people to rethink their allegiance to those companies opposed to Beck. From this perspective, the decision to boycott Beck is going to cost the advertisers more than they had envisioned.
As for me, I am not a fan of Keith Overman, Chris Mathews, Rachel Maddow, Jon Stewart, or Bill Maher. Consequently, I elect to simply not watch their shows. If someone else wants to watch them, fine, but I don't threaten their advertisers with a boycott. My protest here is simply my viewership, and it seems this is the tactic Beck's opponents should have taken as opposed to a boycott that grows uglier for the organizers with each passing day. Evidently, I am not alone as Fox's viewership easily outpaces MSNBC, CNBC, CNN and HLN, especially during prime time. As the boycotters have not learned yet, viewership drives advertising, not the other way around. This makes me question the wisdom of companies advertising on shows with far fewer viewers than the Beck program.
You have to wonder what Beck's critics are trying to accomplish; to muzzle him or get him thrown off the air? If so, they have failed miserably. Since they couldn't affect Beck's viewership, they went after his advertisers instead, which is only going to cost the advertisers in the long run, not Beck. It will be interesting to see when they finally return, which will probably be done as quietly as possible. Until then, sorry Steve, I'm going to boycott the boycotters.
I guess what I'm getting at is there are two ways to subdue a barking dog; you can either beat him with a stick, at which time you run the risk of making it angrier and biting you, or you can leave him alone and attract less attention to the problem.
So, does boycotting work? Ask Glenn Beck; it works for him.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at email@example.com
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