Waitrose has responded to an unreported number of complaints and removed Fox News – which is carried on Sky – from its media schedules. the move comes in response to comments by the station's Glenn Beck who in July called US President Obama "a racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture" after the president said that police had "acted stupidly" in arresting the distinguished professor Henry Louis Gates.
a spokesman commented that:
"We take the placement of our ads in individual programmes very seriously, ensuring the content of these programmes is deemed appropriate for a brand with our values … Since being notified of our presence within the Glenn Beck programme, we have withdrawn all Waitrose advertising from the Fox News channel with immediate effect and for all future TV advertising campaigns."
the removal of the channel won't see Waitrose's media schedule suffer too much as a result of the move; but its a giant leap for transparency and – more crucially – the involvement of customers in a brand's activity…
I've posted thoughts previously about the idea of careholders. and suggested that brands, as well as being responsible to and addressing the wants and needs of shareholders, should also treat customers as careholders… as partners with a right to a say in how that brand behaves. the logical conclusion of this is the crowd-managed brand, but there's a myriad of ways in which brands can each day demonstrate how they're listening, engaging and responding to careholder concerns.
but it doesn't have to be a negative defensive play. I've thought a few times before when planning comms how much fun could be had in letting the people we're trying to talk to help place our ads… and there's a lovely positive feedback loop in the form of people looking out for the ad placements they voted for or wanted.
but for the moment a big shout out to Waitrose, who listened and responded. their media schedule is the better for it.