Two online travel companies on Thursday said they are pulling advertising from Laura Ingraham’s Fox News cable television show after comments made by the host about one of the outspoken students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
TripAdvisor, one of the largest sponsors of Ingraham’s show, said it was yanking its ads. The company has spent about $414,000 on the Ingraham Angle, part of its estimated $18.2 million on national U.S. TV advertising this year, according to iSpot.tv, a research consultancy.
What’s more, Expedia is pulling ads as well from Ingraham’s show, Expedia spokesperson Sarah Waffle Gavin confirmed.
The decisions by TripAdvisor and Expedia follow a call on social media for a boycott of The Ingraham Angle.
At issue are comments she made about David Hogg, 17, who is one of several students to have become public figures by protesting U.S. gun policy. Hogg and the students survived the mass shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month.
“David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it,” Ingraham tweeted Wednesday morning, in reference to four University of California schools.
“Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA… totally predictable given acceptance rates,” Ingraham added.
Hogg responded with a tweet that supposedly listed the dozen largest advertisers of the show and calling for a boycott. TripAdvisor was the only travel company named. Another company, Nutrish pet food, was the first to pull its ads.
In a company statement, TripAdvisor said:
“In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program.”
The company noted that it is an equal opportunity advertiser along political and other spectrums. “TripAdvisor has a global and diverse customer base,” the company said, “and is an active advertiser on a number of networks including news. Our media buys target a variety of time slots and audiences.”
“That said, we will continue to monitor where our advertisements appear in the open market to ensure they fit our guidelines.”
By Thursday afternoon, the host apologized:
“Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA —incl. @DavidHogg111,” Ingraham tweeted. “On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”
It’s unclear if other travel advertisers would join a run for the exits, or if the worst is over.
The biggest travel spender on TV advertising in the U.S. today is believed to be Trivago, which has spent $62.7 million on U.S. TV ads since January 1, 2018, according to iSpot.tv. It has only spent $489,000 with Ingraham’s show this year, to date.
Expedia has spent $26.5 million on U.S. TV so far this year. It has spent $226,000 Ingraham’s show this year, so far, according to iSpot.tv.
One of the Skift Megatrends for 2018 is that many travel brands are making strong messages on controversial topics more frequently in marketing campaigns than they used to in the past.
In the past six weeks, many travel brands have cut their ties the National Rifle Association, the U.S. gun lobby.
Last week, Delta Air Lines donated three round-trip charter flights to fly hundreds of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students to participate in a protest against gun violence in Washington, D.C.
But not everyone in the industry agrees that companies should take political stands on issues like gun control, as has been argued by the CEO of HotelPlanner, a technology company focusing on group travel bookings.
—Additional reporting by Dennis Schaal