PTC Ranks ‘Best,’ ‘Worst’ Broadcast Advertisers

Aug 22, 2006  •  Post A Comment

General Motors, Toyota, Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and Target are labeled as the nation’s worst advertisers in the fifth annual listing from the Parents Television Council, while rival Ford Motor Co. ranked among the nation’s best.

The rankings, released Tuesday, pertain to advertising on prime time on broadcast networks during the 2005-06 season. Advertiser rankings are determined by the percentage of spots advertisers place during what the group considers wholesome, family-oriented television programs versus advertising that they place during programs that contain sexually graphic, violent or profane material.

“There is good news and bad news,” said PTC President L. Brent Bozell. “We compliment those who made the best, but some [on the worst list] need to take responsibility.”

He said advertisers’ unwillingness to advertise on shows with questionable content could help spur networks to air more family-friendly shows, but that network officials tell him that advertisers, instead of exercising restraint, are demanding more edgy content.

“Advertisers have to take responsibility for their ads,” said Mr. Bozell. “I’ve been told by several network executives that advertisers make them do it [run the edgy content].”

Last year PTC listed Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, DaimlerChrysler and Nissan in its “worst” list, but Yum brands led the list, and Sprint and Pepsi also were included in it.

PTC officials said that Ford’s active sponsorship of “American Idol” helped it move to the “best” list this year, while Sprint and Pepsi made neither list. Coca-Cola topped the “best” list this year, rising from eighth last year.

Also making the year’s list of “worst” advertisers, along with car advertisers and Target: GlaxoSmithKline; Apple Computer, American Express and Circuit City.

Several of last year’s “best,” including J.M. Smucker and Merck & Co.., dropped from this year’s best list.

Officials of some of the automakers defended their advertising.

“Our brands advertise using a wide variety of programming to reach the diverse and broad audiences that make up the American public,” said Jason Vines, VP of Chrysler Group Communications.

Ryndee S. Carney, a General Motors spokeswoman, said the company maintains a corporate policy regarding media selection and placement “that is aimed at ensuring GM advertises on programming [that is] consistent and compatible with the image of our brands and our business needs.”

“We are sensitive to the environments in which our ads appear, especially during the earlier evening family viewing hours,” Ms. Carney said. “However, we do acknowledge that programming may legitimately depict sex and violence to illustrate the human condition, and we sometimes choose to advertise on programs that deal with controversial subjects.

“The Parents Television Council has on occasion made us aware of concerns that they have regarding our media selection and placement. We appreciate their feedback and respond to their concerns when the occasion warrants.”

Jean Halliday of Advertising Age contributed to this report.