Advertising pulled after Real Housewives of Auckland controversy

By Aimee Shaw

Real housewives of Auckland Michelle Blanchard and Julia Solane. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Real housewives of Auckland Michelle Blanchard and Julia Solane. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

Bravo cancelled advertising from last night's Real Housewives of Auckland episode in what could be an unprecedented move.

Things turned nasty following a comment made by housewife Julia Sloane to Michelle Blanchard and the show took the commercial move of offering advertisers "alternative placements" rather than ads during the show.

Timeframes designated for advertisement breaks were replaced with trailers and previews for other Bravo television shows.

Dr Bodo Ulf Lang, professor of marketing at Auckland University, said it was very uncommon for advertising to be cancelled.

"From an advertisers perspective they've done absolutely the right thing because they don't want to be associated with a show that is just a little bit too outrageous," Lang said.

"That's the funny twist of it - in a way it is in the spirit of the show - to be controversial, but overstepping a racist line I think is generally accepted not to be okay.

"If you're an advertiser, nobody, nobody would want to be associated with a show that is too controversial and is openly racist, or sexist or ageist."

Lang said he could not think of another instance when the decision not to advertise during a television show had been made in New Zealand.

A Bravo spokesperson said the network felt the decision not to advertise was the right one to make.

"We understand that comments of an intolerant or controversial nature are concerning to advertisers, as such made the decision to run the premiere episode commercial free. Advertisers who were booked into the programme were offered alternative placements throughout the Bravo schedule."

Lang said he believed the television network had made a "sensible" decision and that it would benefit its reputation.

Cancelling advertising also meant advertisers were not seen as "guilty by association", he said.

"No sponsor and no advertiser wants to be associated with something that is universally seen to be violating human values," he said. "I don't think advertisers want to be seen in the context of such comments."

No sponsor and no advertiser wants to be associated with something that is universally seen to be violating human values.

"At the end of the day the networks also have an image to portray and if they're not seen to be responsive to this type of thing then advertisers could say 'well, you know what, we're not going to advertise with you' and that would be a huge disaster for a channel like Bravo," Lang said.

"[The networks] have to be seen to be doing the right things to retain advertisers for the future."

On the controversial episode Julia Sloane was caught off camera calling Michelle a "boat n*****". While Sloane insisted she meant no harm, the "throwaway comment" caused a lot of angst among the housewives.

Lawyers were said to have been called in by Sloane's investment banker husband Michael Lorimer in an attempt to resolve the issue with Blanchard and the show's production team.

Lorimer claimed the producers overplayed Sloane's comment and underplayed the reaction on the episode.

- NZ Herald

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