The upcoming TLC Duggar specials have the internet in an uproar. The family certainly still has a fan following, but much of the public is horrified that they could be returning to television. Between Michelle Duggar’s anti-transgender activism and Josh Duggar’s employment with the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, many of these viewers were disenchanted with the family long before the news of Josh’s molestation crimes, and his parents’ cover-up of the acts, emerged.
Now, many viewers are fighting to keep the family off the air, and they are using the method that seemed to prove successful in removing 19 Kids and Counting from the TLC lineup the first time: contacting the sponsors.
Though the specials, featuring the two married Duggar sisters, Jessa Seewald and Jill Dillard, presumably centering around Jessa’s upcoming delivery of her first child and Jill’s travels outside the U.S. on missionary trips, were announced only days ago, the groups and individuals contacting the would-be sponsors are already seeing a great deal of success. Over half a dozen companies have responded — some with promises not to support any Duggar specials or shows, others with more vague assurances that the concerns will be passed on to advertising teams.
One group working to prevent the Duggar specials from ever airing meets on Facebook under the name “Contacting Sponsors: #NoMoreDuggars.” There, members discuss the best ways to contact the sponsors, share sample letters, and share successes when corporations respond. Though it is a closed group, not public, they have given permission to share some of the responses they’ve received here. Below you’ll see those as well as public responses from companies on social media platforms.
Bissell was among the first companies to respond to customer concerns, declaring that it would not support any future Duggar specials or series.
@lizzie814 We have taken steps to remove our advertising from all future episodes and specials associated with the show.
— BISSELL (@BISSELLclean) September 25, 2015
Benjamin Moore Paints stopped short of a direct promise not to sponsor the Duggar sisters’ specials, but did state that they had “alerted appropriate personnel” about the upcoming shows.
Esurance also responded, saying the company has no plans to advertise on any upcoming TLC specials.
Hidden Valley also stopped short of expressly declaring that they would not support the Duggar specials, but did point out that they pulled sponsorship from the original show as soon as the revelations came out, and assured customers they don’t support the situation overall.
From some companies, the statements have not been a promise, merely an assurance that they do not currently advertise on TLC at all. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts falls among these.
Some companies who do not currently advertise with TLC seemed confused, and perhaps unaware that the specials being discussed are new Duggar shows, not the old run of 19 Kids And Counting. Keurig was among those, but their statement still indicates they won’t be advertising on the new shows.
One member of the Contacting Sponsors group mentioned above reports receiving an email response from McDonalds, a fairly noncommittal statement simply saying that the company doesn’t make decisions to intentionally offend any customers but advertises on a wide variety of media. Another member reports that her post to the Dannon Facebook page was deleted without response.
On Twitter, a number of tweets call for a wide range of companies to promise they won’t sponsor the upcoming specials. Hersheys, PetSmart, Little Debbie, Lowe’s, Yoplait, Flonase, and numerous others have been addressed, but have not yet responded.
TLC’s Facebook post about the specials has thousands of comments, most opposing the decision. On the Duggar Family Official page, there is more support, but still a massive response from those who don’t feel a return to television is wise for the family — or the public.
Though some responses are noncommittal and some companies have simply stated that they already do not advertise with TLC, it’s clear that these corporations are listening to the flood of feedback from the viewing public. Many already seem to be concluding that advertising on the TLC Duggar specials will harm their brand.
An emailed request to TLC’s parent company, Discovery Communications, requesting more information about sponsorship of the shows, and any information about returning the Duggar family to television when so much of the public has spoken in opposition has thus far received no response.