Did Josh Duggar forever tarnish the reputation of the Duggar family? The Duggars seemed untouchable when it came to their 19 Kids and Counting TV show ratings, season after season attracting fans and, consequently, advertisers. But then came the reports that Josh had molested underage girls, including some of his sisters, as a teen. Once confirmed, sponsors quickly distanced themselves from the show, and the resulting scandal caused TLC to cancel 19 Kids and Counting.
The scandals didn’t end there, with the Ashley Madison website hacking revealing that Josh had paid for subscriptions on the site designed to help those who wanted to cheat on their spouses. Duggar subsequently admitted to cheating on his wife, Anna Duggar, as well as an addiction to porn, reported Us Weekly.
But despite Josh’s continued sequence of scandals, TLC subsequently announced a 19 Kids and Counting spinoff, titled Jill & Jessa: Counting On. While the show featuring Jill Duggar and Jessa Duggar has provided TLC with a ratings success, the network is struggling to attract advertisers who don’t want to be associated with anyone from the Duggar clan, reported Cinema Blend.
Following the initial episode of Counting On for the new season of the show, seven sponsors whose ads ran during that episode promptly made it clear that they did not want their advertisements to be broadcast while the Duggars’ show was airing.
Among those advertisers who protested being in any way associated with the Duggars were Pure Michigan, Verizon Wireless, Mattress Firm, Cici’s Pizza, Choice Hotels, The UPS Store, and Whitewave foods. And it didn’t stop there. The second week saw a growing movement of companies seeking to make it clear that when it comes to the Duggar dynasty, they want nothing to do with any show associated with any family member.
Companies are reacting with comments ranging from claiming that their ads were broadcast “in error” to emphasizing that they have no desire to offend their customers, indicating that they feel that anything linked to the Duggar family is offensive.
For example, candy giant Wrigley turned sour with its response when a Skittles ad was broadcast during Counting On.
“It is never our intent to endorse content that could offend our consumers,” proclaimed Wrigley.
While some might speculate that these companies are backtracking after protests, several corporations involved clarified that they purchased ad packages with the network but did not desire to have the commercials broadcast while the Duggar TV show was airing. Others, however, are blaming TLC for putting on their advertisements against their wishes.
All of this brouhaha leaves TLC in a bind. While Josh seems permanently tarnished, some fans are still faithful to Duggar family members such as Jill and Jessa. That fan army caused TLC to take the risk of creating specials centered on the sisters, which went well and also included other family members, such as Josh’s wife, Anna.
Now that the network is trying to survive an entire season of Counting On, it’s a different situation when it comes to sustaining sponsors.
The ultimate issue is whether Jill & Jessa: Counting On runs the risk of turning into Jill & Jessa: Counting On Cancellation. Although ratings are important, advertisers trump when it comes to keeping a show on the air. And since TLC wants to make a profit, persuading companies to support the Duggar family show is a critical piece of the puzzle in determining whether the show can last.
Which companies remain who might step up and agree to have their ads aired when the Duggar family TV show is being broadcast? The problem stems from the tarnished image of the Duggar family, media expert David Johnson, CEO of Strategic Visions, told In Touch.
And this expert predicts that TLC faces tremendous challenges in luring advertisers to count on Counting On for providing them with benefits when it comes to their marketing money.
“The Duggars are radioactive right now,” declared Johnson. “People will see that this new show is just a desperate ploy by the Duggars to reclaim the spotlight and hopefully make some dollars off the public.”
[Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images]