The views expressed in any article published in this blog are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Joseph Foster or Bob Lupoli.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Advertising on Glen Beck & Freedom of Speech

Joe:  you may be interested to see my comment  below this article. -Bob

By Jay Steinfeld | April 5, 2011 

Well, we’re in the midst of a thorny advertising dilemma, to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago, we began advertising Blinds.com on the Glenn Beck radio program. It took all of about 6 days before the vitriolic verbal attacks against me and my company rolled in via Twitter. And they’ve been nasty — I’ve been called everything from a Nazi and a homophobe to a slew of other names that if published here my editor would surely censor. (For the record, I’m Jewish and a supporter of the AIDS Foundation.)

Jay Steinfeld is the founder and CEO of Blinds.com, the industry leader in online window covering sales, representing over half of window treatments sold online and doing more than $80 million in sales annually. Blinds.com was awarded in March, 2010 the American Marketing Association's Marketer of the Year. After starting a small chain of window coverings retail stores, Steinfeld launched his first Web site in 1993 and eventually sold his stores in 2001 to go exclusively online. He is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year for his leadership at Blinds.com. Blinds.com is currently ranked #236 on the Internet Retailer 500. In 2010, it was named one of Houston's Best Places to Work by the Houston Business Journal, the Award of Excellence by the Better Business Bureau, and the honor of being the #1 E-Commerce company in Houston, TX.

One day last week, within 24 hours alone, I received hundreds, if not thousands, of tweets along these lines. The group behind all of this appears to be well-organized. Their goal is to convince — or rather, scare — companies into pulling their advertising from Glenn Beck’s program.

Now, if you’re a Glenn Beck hater (or not), please do me the courtesy of hearing me out before adding your thoughtful opinion below. First, let me get something out of the way: I don’t listen to Glenn Beck. I’m familiar with his schtick and I’m not a fan.

So why did we decide to advertise Blinds.com on Glenn Beck? In short, in an age of weakening advertising effectiveness and “message bombardment,” endorsement radio has been a very effective way for us to reach new customers. We advertise on shows considered ‘left’ (National Public Radio), ‘right’ (Glenn Beck), and ‘neither’ (Dave Ramsey). It was a business decision.

I know what you might be thinking — business decisions shouldn’t be just about dollars and cents. I agree. You must also consider how your decisions affect your business and your personal reputation.

When I made the decision to advertise on Glenn Beck, I thought of it in the same way I thought of our decision to advertise on NPR: Just because we run a 60-second spot on a radio show doesn’t mean I or my company agree with everything that’s said on the program. Our agenda is pretty straightforward: We’re trying to sell blinds and window treatments to folks who need them; it doesn’t have anything to do with the agenda of the radio host. Obviously, if a host were overtly racist or inciting violence, we’d pull off. But when reasonable people can disagree on politics, we’re not going to pick sides.

But is that what our customers will think? I hesitated before writing this because I’m sure this post is bound to be used by the people who are hoping to tear my company down through a social media smear campaign. They’ve already taken my comments out of context and posted their vitriol pretty much anywhere they can find an audience. When I thanked a few free-speech supporters via Twitter, they pulled that out of context, too. The folks who showed support for me turned out to be another kind of fringe element who had said repugnant things about the anti-Beck folks. I was guilty by association.

I’m predicting a series of scripted and libelous comments below this article but I’m okay with that. I believe in transparency, so I’m opening up the question to you: Should Blinds.com continue advertising on Glenn Beck, or should we stop? Are we sending the wrong message to existing and potential customers?

I started Blinds.com from my garage with my then entire life’s savings — only $3,000 — and it’s been a slow and steady process building the business. We’ve won Best Place to work in Houston, AMA Marketer of the Year, National Call Center of the Year, and the Better Business Bureau Award of Distinction. Because we grew and hired 40 percent more people last year, we were featured in the White House blog and on Katie Couric *CBS Evening News for doing our part to create local jobs in a very diverse community. Are we risking the goodwill we have with customers and with potential customers simply by advertising on a controversial talk show?

I hope not. What do you think?
(*Full disclosure: CBS owns BNET.)

Yes - let's 1st assume the GB audience is your demographic - of course. GB is kind of a clown, but as a independent / libertarian / conservative voter I think the Ed show is in the same category, Maddow is pedantic and repetitive, Keith O. was purely lefty Lawrence O. (boring & lefty)and O'Reily an interrupter. I think reasonable people can disagree and I disagree with all of the above just about everytime I watch their shows and I watch just about every night. None of the above are communists or Nazi's. I prefer Chris Matthews and O'Reily and I think there are many people who recognize all of the shows above have their ideological agendas. Diversity of (strong) opinion is what makes America great, and the ability to do it freely! The vehemet partisanship sometimes blinds us to the freedom and liberty we enjoy as Americans!
Bob Lupoli
Stand Up for America! Blog
http://boblupoli.blogspot.com

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