The Florida Family Association (FFA) has attracted media attention for convincing Lowe’s and Kayak.com to pull their ads from All-American Muslim, but the additional scrutiny has also revealed that the one-man organization is guilty of making inaccurate claims about the success of its advertising outrage campaigns. Think Progress investigated claims by the organization’s head David Caton that FFA had convinced Macy’s and Target to drop their advertising from Teen Nick’s Degrassi after the group raised objections to the show’s portrayal of LGBT teens and its support of The Trevor Project suicide hotline for LGBT youth. It turns out that these were no victories at all.
Jim Sluzewski, a spokesperson for Macy’s, told Think Progress that Macy’s had never actually run a single advertisement on Degrassi and never had plans to. He pointed out that FFA targeted Macy’s because other vendors had run commercials during Degrassi, mentioning at the end that their products were “available at Macy’s.” Macy’s had nothing to do with these commercials, and Sluzewski said that any FFA claim of victory over Macy’s was simply “wrong.”
An official statement from Target similarly suggests that Caton’s protests had no impact on their advertising:
Target continues to air ads on TeenNick. We purchase airtime to reach audiences that most closely match a typical Target guest and our commercials are broadcast on a variety of television programs throughout the day.
Caton said FFA’s next target for the Degrassi campaign is the Mars and Wrigley candy companies. At time of publication, they had not responded with comment about whether they had any plans to alter their advertising. Mars’ Advertising Guidelines suggest, however, that they would have little reason to back away from advertising on a multi-award winning series like Degrassi:
The handling of controversial subjects calls for particular sensitivity and consideration. When serious treatment of controversial subjects is handled properly, in a factually accurate, fair and balanced manner, the media can perform a constructive societal role which should be encouraged.
Caton may object that Degrassi‘s content is “aimed at an immoral behavior that children would embrace,” but it’s becoming quite clear that advertisers should take his complaints with a grain of salt. The FFA speaks only on behalf of one cantankerous man and does not have nearly as much influence as it claims to.