Group Targets Ad Pros Online in Anti-Fox News Campaign

  |  May 24, 2011   |  Comments

Media Matters sparks ad buying controversy for Orbitz.

dropfox2Angelo Carusone, campaign director of Media Matters for America, is known for successfully pressuring advertisers to pull spots from the "Glenn Beck" program on Fox News. Now, his progressive research and information nonprofit is sparking controversy for Orbitz when it comes to its ad buying decisions.

As part of its broader DropFox effort, Media Matters has singled out the online travel booking service in a new online ad campaign claiming that by advertising on Fox News, Orbitz looks hypocritical. Media Matters is calling out the gay-friendly travel firm's Fox News TV ad buys, claiming Fox presents homophobic content.

The group aims to encourage media buyers and others in the ad industry to think twice before advertising on Fox. It began targeting display ads on May 16 to people in the industry through Google's content network and on Facebook.

"Orbitz is running ads courting the LGBT community. Orbitz is also financing homophobia by advertising on Fox News," read ads targeting members of the advertising community.

Other ads state, "If your media buy still includes Fox News your brand...is at risk."

dropfox1"We're speaking to advertisers in marketing terms and on issues that they say matter to them," said Media Matters' Carusone. The campaign ads also suggest that advertisers buying ads on Fox News are helping support misinformation about climate science. Orbitz lists its "5 Pillars of Global Responsibility" on its website; they include supporting the LGBT community and promoting eco-friendly travel. One of the Media Matters ads suggests that brands advertising on Fox News are "not green."

Carusone has been successful in his personal "Stop Beck" campaign targeting advertisers supporting the Glenn Beck show. He claims that hundreds of advertisers have pledged to stop running ads alongside the controversial show, which is scheduled to end, in part as a result of the advertiser boycott.

In addition to targeting people working at top media agencies on Facebook through workplace targeting, the campaign is targeting people on Gmail who subscribe to industry newsletters, said Josh Koster, managing partner of Chong and Koster, the agency handling online advertising for the Drop Fox effort. The campaign is also retargeting, as well as site-targeting ads through Google's network to reach readers of key ad industry publications.

Ad industry professionals tend to be easy targets online, said Koster. Not only do they pay more attention to ads than others, "They're targetable in more ways than any other groups," he said.

Orbitz published a press release last week in response to the campaign. "We welcome engagement and discussion with our customers, and appreciate the open and forthright exchange of ideas. However, we absolutely condemn the efforts of the campaign organizers to smear our brand through the use of misinformation about Orbitz' long history working with the LGBT community.

Carusone told ClickZ News he is "a little surprised by Orbitz's response," and said the company has not responded to call and emails from Media Matters. Orbitz did not respond to a request for an interview in time for publication of this story, however, the firm said in the press release, "We're responding by launching a TRUTH campaign that highlights our deep commitment to promoting tolerance, non-discrimination and equality, and our longstanding history of working with the LGBT community."

Orbitz posted about its response on Facebook, eliciting hundreds of comments from people supporting the Drop Fox effort, as well as some backing the company's apparent decision to ignore it.

"It really is a serious, sustained and long-term campaign," said Carusone, adding that Media Matters intends to unveil additional educational information in support of its claims over time.

Ads claiming that advertisers on the channel help support anti-Latino sentiment are planned, too. In 2009, Media Matters was involved in a campaign that vilified CNN host Lou Dobbs as an anti-immigrant racist. Dobbs resigned from the network later that year.

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Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.

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