BMW, Allstate pull ads from 'O'Reilly Factor' after harassment report

Ads have been pulled from Bill O'Reilly's show and moved to other programming on the Fox News network after a report five women were paid to settle sexual harassment claims against O'Reilly. 

Brendan McDermid/Reuters
Fox News Channel host Bill O'Reilly poses on the set of his show "The O'Reilly Factor" in New York, March 17, 2015.

More companies, including carmaker BMW and insurer Allstate, have pulled their advertising from Fox News' "The O’Reilly Factor" television program days after The New York Times reported Fox and star host Bill O’Reilly paid five women to settle claims he sexually harassed them.

On Tuesday, BMW of North America, Allstate Corp., French pharmaceuticals maker Sanofi SA, direct marketer Constant Contact, men's clothing company Untuckit, and mutual fund operator T. Rowe Price all told Reuters they would no longer advertise on the show. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline Plc said it would temporarily suspend its advertising.

"In light of the disturbing allegations, we instructed our media buyer this morning to reallocate our ad dollars to other shows effective immediately," Untuckit Chief Executive Aaron Sanandres said in an email. Untuckit is among the biggest advertisers on the show.

Shares of Fox News parent Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. fell 1.2 percent to $31.75 on Tuesday.

Ads pulled from O'Reilly's show were being moved to other programming on the network, said Paul Rittenberg, the channel's executive vice president of advertising sales.

"We value our partners and are working with them to address their current concerns about the O’Reilly Factor," Mr. Rittenberg said in an emailed statement.

Ainsworth Pet Nutrition also reportedly suspended its advertising, though Reuters could not confirm the report. Hyundai Motor Corp. told The New York Times it was reallocating future advertising on the program.

Mercedez-Benz said on Monday it was suspending its advertising on the show.

The New York Times reported over the weekend that Fox and O’Reilly paid $13 million to five women who accused him of sexual harassment. O'Reilly, in a statement posted on his website on Saturday, said he had been unfairly targeted because of his prominence.

The National Organization for Women on Tuesday called for O’Reilly to be fired and demanded an independent investigation into the "culture of sexual harassment" at Fox News. "The reported use of his powerful position to repeatedly manipulate women reveals a cruel misogyny that runs to the core of his character," the group said.

The controversy comes less than a year after Roger Ailes stepped down as Fox News chairman and chief executive after Gretchen Carlson, a former host on the network, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. Mr. Ailes's resignation was a stunning reversal of how both the media and corporate worlds dealt with these claims in the past, Harry Bruinius reported for The Christian Science Monitor. 

[F]or those who have long battled the problems of sexual harassment within the upper echelons of corporate power, the resignation of Mr. Ailes represents a “seismic shift” in the media world and a blow to an old-boys network of privilege still alive and well within Manhattan’s power centers – a persistent casual pressure on female subordinates to begin surreptitious sexual relationships, many experts say....

“Unlike the public trashing that other women have gotten when accusing powerful men in the past – think Anita Hill, called 'nutty' and 'slutty' in 1991 or the long line of Bill Cosby accusers who, until very recently, were dismissed as gold diggers – [Gretchen] Carlson’s claims that Ailes ogled her and forced her out when she rebuffed him were taken seriously, listened to, and investigated,” wrote business consultant and writer Pamela Kruger in Fortune.

“It’s a stunningly fast fall – and one that suggests there may be some kind of sea change in how women who allege sexual harassment by powerful men are treated,” Ms. Kruger continued.

According to ad-tracking firm, Mercedes-Benz bought an estimated $266,477 of commercials on the show over the past 30 days, making the company the show's tenth largest advertiser, and spent $1.3 million in 2016. Hyundai purchased $102,902 worth of commercials over the last 30 days, and $913,445 in 2016. The South Korean automaker also spent $644,788 in 2016 for Kia spots on the show.

Untuckit spent $365,556 in the past 30 days and $1.36 million in 2016. Sanofi spent more than $1 million in 2016, while GSK spent $565,962 to advertise on the show last year.

"The O’Reilly Factor" is the most watched program on Fox News and is coming off the highest-rated first quarter in its history, averaging 4 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

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