A growing list of companies are pulling their advertising from Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" this week, abandoning its controversial host, Bill O'Reilly, over sexual harassment claims against him. And GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Sanofi and Eli Lilly are among them.
The pharma companies join a group that now reportedly includes more than 20 brands, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and AllState, that have suspended or moved ads off the show.
For GlaxoSmithKline, its move came on the same day Emma Walmsley took over as CEO, becoming the first woman to helm a big pharma company. It follows just weeks after the GSK froze ad spending on YouTube, joining other companies concerned by media reports of brand ad placements near offensive content.
GSK confirmed the freeze to FiercePharma and said, in a statement, “We are continually reviewing our advertising to ensure it is conducted in a responsible manner aligned with our values. We have temporarily put a hold on spots running on The O'Reilly Factor while we assess this situation."
Sanofi also confirmed its advertising removal from the show and said, in a statement, "At Sanofi Consumer Healthcare, decisions about advertising on any given website, network, magazine, or programs are never undertaken as an endorsement or non-endorsement of the host, editorial or entertainment content. Rather, our purpose in advertising our product is to provide important information to consumers so that they may make an informed decision about which product will best provide relief for their symptoms.The controversy around The O’Reilly Factor program and allegations made against Bill O’Reilly are matters that we take seriously and will continue to monitor."
Bayer also confirmed noting that it "purchases packages of advertising time across all major networks without selecting placement on any specific program."
However, in this specific case, Bayer has suspended its ads, and said, “Bayer supports a safe, respectful and non-abusive environment for women and we have reached out to Fox to voice our concerns regarding this matter. Based on the serious nature of these allegations, we have made the decision to suspend all advertising on the program in question. This suspension has been requested immediately and will be handled as expeditiously as possible. We have been informed, however, that programming changes may not become effective immediately."
A Fox News executive told CNN that all the ads pulled so far from O'Reilly's show were being rescheduled into other programming on the channel.
GlaxoSmithKline spent $4.1 million on national TV ads run during O’Reilly’s show on Fox in the last year, for OTC brands including Flonase, Biotene and Polident, according to real-time TV tracker iSpot.tv. Bayer spent $2.9 million on OTC brands including Aleve and Alka Seltzer, while Sanofi spent an estimated $1.6 million in the past year on TV ads for OTC and pharma brands, with the bulk—$1.4 million—on diabetes med Toujeo, according to iSpot.tv.
O’Reilly told The New York Times the claims had no merit after an article the Times published last weekend noted that $13 million has been paid out to five women in exchange for dropping lawsuits against the host and not speaking about the settlement.