The first Jill and Jessa: Counting On special has aired, and many viewers are upset. It seems that, though hundreds of companies assured the public they would not advertise on the show, or on anything else connected to the Duggar family, some of those same companies were advertised during the first airing.
Now, a few of those companies are speaking up. They say that they directed TLC and their advertising companies (many large companies buy blocks of advertising through a third-party media company) not to associate their products with the Duggar family in any way -- and that their ads were run anyway, not only without permission, but after a direct request not to do so.
A Facebook group, called "Contacting Sponsors: #NoMoreDuggars," is behind much of the campaign to keep the Jill and Jessa: Counting On specials from seeing enough support to turn into another full-fledged series. The group, with around 1,500 members, has created lists of companies that have previously sponsored shows on TLC, along with contact information. Then, the members, as well as other viewers outside the group, bombarded the companies with posts, emails, tweets, and phone calls.
These all amounted to the same thing: the viewers feel that the Duggars are a bad influence, due to allegations of child abuse and sexual molestation, as well as the way the family handled the issues afterward. In the eyes of many viewers, the Duggar family's behavior after the molestations, and again after the information became public, amounts to victim-blaming, deflecting, covering up in a way that endangered other children, and a lot of lying.
Accordingly, they asked corporations not to sponsor Jill and Jessa: Counting On, and warned that doing so would result in boycotts. Hundreds of companies responded, saying that they had no intentions to be connected to anything Duggar-related, now or in the future, and that they'd take steps to prevent their ads airing during the show.
When the first special aired, however, the group posted two "designated watchers" to be sure the companies kept their promise, while the rest of the protesters avoided the channel, and in some cases, even other channels owned by Discovery Networks, in a widespread boycott.
When commercials aired on Jill and Jessa: Counting On, many were for other TLC content, and many were local ads. However, they also included national brands -- including some, like Ford and Crayola, who had promised to pull advertising. Now, viewers are asking what happened.
It remains to be seen whether this can be chalked up to misunderstanding or error, or whether Crayola's PR team is just doing damage control, or whether TLC truly used the ads despite orders not to do so. A request to TLC for comment has not yet been answered; update to follow if the network does respond.
Jill and Jessa: Counting On aired with high viewership and rather poor reviews, and if advertisers continue to refuse support, it could be the end for the show. If, however, allegations that TLC used ads without permission continue, the Duggar family could prove to, yet again, be an issue for the network's legal team.
[Image via TLC]