If you read the corporate credo prominently displayed on the corporate web site of Johnson and Johnson, you might have guessed that they would have been the first major sponsor to drop advertising on the David Letterman Show.
You would be wrong, though.
Embassy Suites, Southwestern Airlines, and Hellman's beat them to the punch.
And Johnson and Johnson has maintained a steady advertising presence on Letterman between June 10, when Letterman made his offensive comments about Sarah Palin and her daughter, and this past Friday, June 19. Johnson and Johnson has continued to advertise three key "family friendly" products during this period: Listerine, Aveeno, and KY Brands.
Here's what the company calls its corporate credo:
We believe our first responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and patients, to mothers and fathers and all others who use our products and services...We are responsible to the communities in which we live and work and to the world community as well.
Apparently, Johnson and Johnson considers their steady advertising on David Letterman part of being responsible members of the community.
The offensive comments were made by Letterman on June 8.
According to the website Watchful Raven, Johnson and Johnson advertised on Letterman on June 10.
It appears that Mr. Letterman's comments didn't bother the advertising executives at Johnson and Johnson, because they advertised on his program the next day, Thursday, June 11, and the day after that, Friday, June 12, and continued advertising on the day of his second "heartfelt" apology, Monday, June 15.
Here's how Johnson and Johnson responded to emails this past week asking the company to stop advertising on Letterman:
"Johnson and Johnson takes a firm stand regarding the quality of television programming in which its commercials appear and supports the National Council for Families and Television...
With the help of our advertising agencies, a conscientious effort is made to screen all programs prior to broadcast. As a result of our screening, we have frequently withdrawn ads from television shows in the past and we will continue to monitor programming in the same manner in the future...
Your concern will be directed to network personnel. However, the most effective comment on programming is direct action by viewers. Therefore, we would urge you to communicate your feelings directly to the network... "
If that response doesn't sound enough like a corporation passing the buck, consider the significance of the national organization it cites as the group it supports -- "The National Council for Families and Television". Sounds like that must be a large organization working tirelessly to maintain standards on television, right ?
According to this website, that might not be quite right.
It's a little organization with an annual budget of $350,000 run out of a storage room in the Los Angeles office of the Leo Burnett Advertising Agency. OK, I have no proof that it's run out of a storage room, but it's hard to find an actual website for the organization, so you make your own conclusions.
Better yet, send me the link for the website, and I'll post it here.
Here's how the one website I could find with any information about the organization describes it:
The National Council for Families and Television is an advisory board comprised of television producers, writers, and programming executives; advertisers; educators. [It] aims to enhance the quality of life for families and children by positively affecting the creation and uses of primetime television entertainment. [It] conducts seminars, symposia, and invitational weekends where television creators meet with experts to discuss issues that are important to the American family.
This agency, in its stated purpose, is only focused on primetime television, which is earlier than the Letterman Show. So the executives at Johnson and Johnson are sending out generic emails to concerned citizens that represent little more than a condescending pat on the head.
All of the above goes to explain why www.FireDavidLetterman.com is going to focus its energies today, Monday, June 22, 2009 on sending a message to the executives at Johnson and Johnson.
Here's the message:
We are asking Johnson and Johnson to make a public statement on Monday, June 22 that the company is stopping ALL advertising on the Late Show with David Letterman immediately until CBS has held Mr. Letterman to the same degree of accountability to which the company held Don Imus.
Until Johnson and Johnson makes such a public statement, our message to them is clear. We won't buy their products and we will make a point of going into every grocery store in the country and telling that same message to the manager of the local grocery store.
Here's the phone numbers and email addresses.
Main Number: 1-888-222-0182 (Johnson and Johnson Healthcare Products)
Kristina Chang, Public Relations, 973-385-4370, firstname.lastname@example.org
Steve Schonberg, Edelman PR, 212-704-4494, email@example.com
Drop me a line here and let me know what you hear back !
Our campaign appears to be working today. Johnson and Johnson's website is now experiencing "technical difficulties."
Here's what the site says now:
"JNJ.com is experiencing technical difficulties. Please try the site again later. We apologize for any inconvenience that you may experience as a result of this service disruption."