Recent news of Bill O’Reilly’s multiple sexual harassment settlements has driven away two big advertisers: Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai.
Hyundai announced early Tuesday that it would remove upcoming ads from the embattled host’s Fox News show due to “recent and disturbing allegations,” according to CNN.
On Monday, luxury car company Mercedes-Benz announced that it was pulling its ads from Fox News’ ratings juggernaut “The O’Reilly Factor,” calling the allegations against the host “disturbing.”
“Yes — we had advertising running on ‘The O’Reilly Factor’ (we run on most major cable news shows) and it has been reassigned in the midst of this controversy,” Donna Boland, a spokesperson for company, said in a statement. “The allegations are disturbing and, given the importance of women in every aspect of our business, we don’t feel this is a good environment in which to advertise our products right now.”
“This is a blow for O’Reilly,” advertising expert and founder of the Brand Identity Center Chad Kawalec told TheWrap regarding Mercedes’ announcement. “This is not a decision Mercedes-Benz would have made lightly, especially considering O’Reilly is a top show on Fox.”
Kawalec believes it’s possible other advertisers will follow suit.
“Any advertiser who’s currently considering buying ads on ‘O’Reilly’ will be reevaluating that decision right now,” Kawalec added. “It also puts pressure on others, especially other car makers, who I’m sure are already asking their media-buying agencies if and when they should pull out.”
CNN Money reported on Monday that several other advertisers — including Lexus — are already “looking into the matter.”
A spokesperson for Fox News did not respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
It’s unclear what these latest developments mean for the future of the show. “The O’Reilly Factor” has been cable news’ top show for years, generating hundreds of millions in ad revenue.
However, for the last three weeks Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show has beaten “The O’Reilly Factor” as the most-watched show in cable news among the key demographic of adults age 25-54.
As TheWrap previously reported, O’Reilly picked up four of the top six telecasts in all of cable last month, each averaging more than 4 million viewers.
The only show seen by more viewers was AMC’s hit “The Walking Dead” and its after show, “Talking Dead.”
But, Kawalec warns, that could change if the backlash gains traction.
“At the end of the day, there are plenty of other choices,” he said.