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The Forerunner

TV Sponsors Drop Programs

By Editorial Staff
Published June 1, 1989

TUPELO, MS (EP) – Domino’s Pizza has notified the American Family Association (AFA) that they have canceled their advertising on “Saturday Night Live,” becoming the third major advertiser to take this step.

Domino’s owner Thomas S. Monaghan told AFA, “I feel that Domino’s pizza promotes and maintains high family values and ethics, and will make every effort to avoid advertising on programs that do not.”

“We appreciate Domino’s decision,” responded the Rev. Donald Wildmon, executive director of AFA. “We think they made a very wise business and moral decision, and we commend them for it. More and more corporations are beginning to say no to the exploitative and anti-Christian programming of the networks.”

Ralston Purina and General Mills recently canceled their ads for “Saturday Night Live” after correspondence with AFA.

AFA recently dropped its boycott of Pepsi after Pepsi dropped its controversial ads featuring pop diva Madonna, and said they would not sponsor the singer’s tour. AFA called for a boycott of Pepsi after the release of the video for Madonna’s hit song, “Like a Prayer.” Pepsi had used the same song, with different imagery, for a Pepsi commercial. While the commercial was inoffensive, the video for the song contained elements some found sacrilegious. Pepsi said viewers were confusing the commercial with the sexier and more controversial video, and halted Madonna’s role as a spokesperson for the product – at a reported cost of $10 million.

This trend in advertising toward responding to public sensibilities comes at a time when a major Christian coalition is preparing for a boycott of companies that sponsor offensive programming. Christian Leaders for Responsible Television (CLEAR-TV), a coalition of approximately 1600 Christian leaders including the heads of 70 denominations, has scheduled a one-year boycott of one or more leading sponsors of sex, violence, profanity and anti-Christian stereotyping based on monitoring the group did during the April 27 – May 24 ratings “sweeps.”

Wildmon, who organized CLEAR-TV, said, “Many companies are reevaluating their sponsorship of programs. Network officials are trying to convince the advertisers that they should continue supporting the sex, violence, profanity and anti-Christian stereotyping. But their efforts are beginning to fall on deaf ears.”

Fred Silverman, former president of NBC, believes the general public is prepared to support a boycott of companies that sponsor objectionable programs. “Most of the press seems to forget … that the television audience is not a single audience,” Silverman told a syndicated columnist. “They write for the liberal, free-thinking yuppies, but there is another, sizable constituency out there. Call it what you want, the moral majority or whatever, but they represent the majority of the population, and they’re very vocal. They wield an enormous amount of clout, and they’ve had it with trash television.”

Wildmon said the AFA is preparing radio and television spots to promote the boycott, as well as bulletin inserts, boycott cards to be distributed in churches, and a planned mass-mailing of three million pieces.

“We have made repeated attempts to get the advertisers to respond to our concerns. We have offered to work with them prior to the monitoring and help them avoid a boycott any way we can. But once the monitoring is over and the boycott begins, it will continue for a period of one year,” he concluded. “It has come to the point that advertisers don’t take us seriously, and they will not until we can demonstrate that we can drop their profits. That is the reason the boycott will be for a one-year period.”

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