May 16th, 2011
Here’s a good example of using a proxy target for your REAL opponent in an online advertising campaign: Media Matters has gone on the digital offensive against Fox News, but their ads are actually aimed at online travel service Orbitz. Here’s what’s up, and look to the right for a few frames from one of their video pieces.
Media Matters kicked off its DropFox campaign today by urging Orbitz (OWW), an online travel site, to pull its ads from the anti-LBGT Fox News network. Three high-profile gay rights organizations — GLAAD, Courage Campaign and Equality Matters — signed the letter to Orbitz CEO Barney Harford asking that the company no longer support Fox News through ad revenue.
Media Matters’ multi-issue DropFox campaign aims to hold Fox News accountable for its hate speech, misinformation, and other alarming deviations from the usual standards of anews organization. This campaign includes an online ad component to raise awareness about Orbitz’s financial support for Fox News.
It’s a good tactic, since Fox News couldn’t care less about Media Matters itself (in fact, the more a lefty organization like MM picks on Fox, the more cred the “news” network earns with its fan base), but Orbitz is another story. Consumer brands are usually very sensitive to how they’re perceived, making them far more vulnerable to online action than a typical politician — Congressional offices EXPECT to get criticized via email, and they accept that many constituents will simply never be happy with them, but a corporation takes a great risk if it runs off even a few of its customers. In this case, Orbitz is particularly vulnerable because it has advertised specifically at the LGBT community, opening it to charges of hypocrisy. And Media Matters and its allies aren’t being shy:
We are running an array of ads — from Google to Facebook to banner ads on specific sites — to raise awareness among consumers that their dollars might be going to support bigotry and misinformation and to ensure that brand managers understand the risk they run by associating with Fox News.
Good times all around! This tactic isn’t new, of course, since advocacy groups have pushed advertisers to drop their support of particular networks and shows many times in the past, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.