Activist-Driven Advertiser Boycott a Key Factor in O’Reilly’s Demise

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Activist-Driven Advertiser Boycott a Key Factor in O’Reilly’s Demise

Color Of Change and others pressured O’Reilly advertisers behind the scenes and publicly to drop their ads, resulting in 77 corporations dropping “The Factor” in the past 3 weeks

WASHINGTON - A campaign demanding that advertisers boycott Bill O’Reilly led by Color Of Change, the racial justice organization with more than one million members, played a critical role in pressuring Fox News to fire Bill O’Reilly. Over the past three weeks, dozens of advertisers have dropped O’Reilly’s show, as Color Of Change’s led a high-profile pressure campaign calling on corporations to reject the former host’s history of racism and sexism.

“This victory belongs to all those who O’Reilly has victimized, and those who have demanded that the corporations that sponsor his show put their money where their values are and pull their spots. Thanks to that pressure, Bill O’Reilly will no longer be a menace on-air or in the halls of Fox News’s headquarters,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color Of Change. “Bill O’Reilly has spent years spewing racism and harassing women. Today, his reign of hate and abuse comes to an end.”

Following new revelations this month about Bill O’Reilly history of sexual harassment, Color Of Change launched a campaign demanding that “O’Reilly Factor” advertisers pull their spots from the show. Continuing a campaign started in 2015 in response to O’Reilly’s racism, Color Of Change called on current sponsors of “The Factor” to align their ad buys with their own corporate values. Over the last two years Color Of Change has been in direct communication behind the scenes with 100 advertisers, including formerly major sponsors who dropped the show like Nutrisystem and General Motors.

Color Of Change also launched a petition to pressure advertisers, which was signed by 340,000 people. With sources inside Fox News citing loss of ad revenue as a central reason for firing O’Reilly, Color Of Change’s campaign—following the same model that Color Of Change used to push Glenn Beck off the air in 2011, escalating from behind-the-scenes pressure on companies to public pressure if companies did not drop their ads —was instrumental in getting O’Reilly off the air.

“Fox News and the Murdochs only listen when they hear the sound of money rushing out the door,” said Robinson. “If dozens of advertisers had not dropped ‘The Factor,’ Bill O’Reilly would still be endangering 21st Century Fox employees.”

In addition to directly pressuring advertisers, Color Of Change has also:

  • Submitted a briefing to the British media regulator Ofcom, urging them to investigate harassment at 21st Century Fox before approving the company’s acquisition of European media giant Sky plc. The precarity of the Sky deal has been widely cited as a reason for O’Reilly’s termination.
  • Held protests outside Fox News headquarters.
  • Geo-targeted Fox News headquarters and affiliates with digital ads that share a phone number to confidentially report harassment.

But Color Of Change cautions that the fight for a fair workplace at Fox News is hardly over.

“While today is an important victory, it hardly absolves Fox News of its decades of racism and sexism,” said Robinson. “Fox News didn’t clean up its act after Roger Ailes was fired, and it won’t just because O’Reilly was fired. We’ll continue to demand accountability from the Murdochs.”

For years, Color Of Change has challenged Bill O’Reilly’s hateful speech and actions. In 2015 the organization called on advertisers to pull their spots from O’Reilly’s show after he fabricated a story about being attacked by protestors while covering the 1992 Los Angeles riot. In 2010, Color of Change called on businesses to stop showing Fox News in public settings in response to O’Reilly’s deceptive editing of then-USDA employee Shirley Sherrod’s remarks to the NAACP.

In 2009, Color Of Change led a campaign that eventually forced Glenn Beck off-air, developing their unique inside/outside playbook for pressuring advertisers to pull spots from Beck’s show. As the New York Times reported, Color Of Change was able to organize hundreds of thousands to demand Fox News drop Beck, and as a result more than 300 advertisers dropped their spots before Fox News cancelled his show.

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Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over one million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.

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