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Mercedes-Benz Suggests It Could Return Ads to Fox News’ 8 PM Slot

Variety logo Variety 4/20/2017 Brian Steinberg
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Madison Avenue might be willing to place commercials it swiped from Bill O’Reilly back in his time slot, now that someone else is going to anchor it.

Mercedes-Benz USA, one of the first advertisers to acknowledge publicly that it moved its advertising out of the anchor’s “O’Reilly Factor” on Fox News in the wake of revelations about sexual-harassment settlements, is now willing to consider returning its commercials to his time slot. Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, said Wednesday that O’Reilly would not return to his post after he left on vacation last week. Controversy has swirled around the anchor since The New York Times reported that five different women were paid settlements totaling $13 million after alleging sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior by the Fox News stalwart. O’Reilly has said he made settlements to protect his children.

“When we decided to remove our ads from O’Reilly, we reassigned them to other Fox News programming,” said Donna Boland, manager of corporate communications for Mercedes-Benz USA, via email. “If whatever comes into the new slot make sense for us, we’ll evaluate it when the time comes.”

Fox News said Wednesday that Tucker Carlson would replace O’Reilly at 8 p.m., starting Monday. April 24, while “The Five,” a panel program, would replace him at 9 p.m.

Dozens of advertisers suspended their ties to “O’Reilly Factor” in response to The New York Times report and growing pressure placed on them by social-media activists. Among the other big names that moved their ads elsewhere on Fox News’ schedule were BMW North America, Sanofi US, Allstate, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, Mitsubishi Motors, T. Rowe Price, BMW North America and Hyundai Motors. The majority of them said they had not pulled money from the network, but had instead “re-expressed” their ad spending so commercials appeared in other programs.

In recent days, “O’Reilly Factor” has been supported by just ten or so  national commercials each night – many of them of the direct-response variety. Viewers who tune in next Monday will be able to tell if a wider array of marketers choose to sponsor Tucker Carlson at his new earlier hour.

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