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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The supreme consumer wins again

Here's some indirect evidence that the idea of letting O.J. Simpson confess to two murders on Fox New Network wasn't such a great idea. Advertising Age reports that big-time advertisers on the network saw the downside early and took themselves off the table:
Advertisers breathed a sigh of relief after Fox yanked its O.J. Simpson semi-confessional sweeps special, "O.J. Simpson: If I Did it, Here's How it Happened." Several media buyers told Advertising Age they pro-actively called Fox to say they didn't want their clients' spots to run in the special. Other media agencies report that no one from Fox ad sales even called to pitch the show, perhaps knowing the response they would get.
Advertisers are often depicted as dupes and not in touch but they are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak, relative to the advertising vehicle. Therefore, the popular outrage about the potential "special" swelled from the ground up, in part through FNN advertisers.

I think this is an important point because many cases individuals feel powerless against the "market" or "monopolists" and they lose faith in the market process. However, the withdrawn O.J. Simpson special is a case of market forces at work in a "positive" way.

Not too many folks are casting the failure of the O.J. Simpson special as the outcome of a market process. I suppose it might run counter to the folklore and the popular mythology about the relative weakness of the consumer, yet the consumer is almost always the supreme arbiter of what will happen in a market. If consumers don't want something, they rarely get it. If consumers do want something they are rarely disappointed in the end.

In the case of O.J., the power of one outraged consumer was combined with the power of thousands of other outraged consumers and the market (FNN, its advertisers, other publishers, and who knows how many other entities) responded. Much quicker, I might add, than any government or true monopoly would responded.

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