NBC’s ratings-challenged new series The Playboy Club—which lost a million viewers in its second episode this week—has another problem to contend with: the Parents Television Council, which recently launched a campaign to convince the show's sponsors into dropping their support.
So why is the group riled up this time? “It’s the promotion of the Playboy Club brand by the network,” PTC policy chief Dan Isett told the New York Post. “We know what it stands for. The network spends millions to market a show like this; the posters are all over buses in Washington, D.C. The idea you can change the channel is not accurate.”
The group said yesterday that seven advertisers—Kraft, Sprint, Lenovo, UPS, Subway, P.F. Chang’s home meals, and Campbell’s Soup—had all listened to the parents’ message and dropped their ads after the first episode, sparking rumors that the show was headed for cancellation.
Sources at NBC, however, told the Post that the list was wrong (although the network would only officially say that it plans to continue the show “with advertising” and that it doesn’t discuss its sponsors’ media plans).
Two of the advertisers themselves were also willing to disprove the PTC's claim. In an email, Kraft said, “For The Playboy Club, our sole purchase to date was on the premiere episode, and we did not have plans to advertise on that particular show through the end of the year.” Unilever, which owns the P.F. Chang brand, also confirmed that it hadn’t jumped ship, and will continue to advertise on occasional episodes.
Chrysler, another NBC advertiser, similarly said it was planning to continue to advertise on the network. “We feel that it is important to deliver information about our products to a diverse and broad audience,” a spokeswoman told the Post.