Last night’s episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee, which led off with Bee’s mix of apology and defiance, saw a dropoff in national advertisers as some brands hit the pause button while the drama over Bee’s c-word usage played out.
Among the national advertisers who stayed in the mix last night were Sony PlayStation, Cascade dish detergent and upcoming summer movie releases Oceans 8 and Jurassic World. On the May 30 episode, by contrast, more than twice as many national spots aired, including ones for blue-chip advertisers like Microsoft, Taco Bell and Geico.
Many conservative media outlets, no doubt emboldened by President Donald Trump leaping to the defense of his daughter, Ivanka, has characterized the week-to-week change as a pullout or boycott by advertisers. But it was notable that no tweets or press releases announced a full-scale withdrawal from the show. This appeared to mostly be a case of brands laying low, as Bee had telegraphed that she would open the show by taking on the controversy.
When contacted by Deadline, Turner declined to comment.
The pullback last night was hardly Anheuser-Busch withdrawing from the Super Bowl. Although the show is a buzzy critical darling that helps the TBS brand, it isn’t pulling in massive sums from ads. Multiple sources said advertisers who opted out last night were accommodated with ad inventory elsewhere in Turner’s portfolio.
It remains to be seen whether there is any lingering effect from the controversy, but Bee’s fans still seem to be staying true to her.
Inscape, which provides automatic content recognition through smart TVs (a cutting-edge way to measure TV ads and content), said viewers of her show are more likely to watch other TBS shows. Viewers are most likely to watch Conan over any other comedy show by a wide margin.
Canvs, which uses AI technology to measure dozens of distinct emotional reactions to TV programming, said the top emotion for last night’s Full Frontal was love. It prompted 35% of all emotions around the show and the company said that reaction was driven primarily by her “apology.” Other top emotions were “enjoy” (15.2%) and “funny” (8.6%).
Viewers of the show react to the show 8.3 times more than they do to other programs across all networks Canvs measures, the company said.