Keurig CEO apologizes for ‘taking sides’ and boycotting Hannity after conservatives destroy products

Keurig CEO apologizes for ‘taking sides’ and boycotting Hannity after conservatives destroy products
Keurig's CEO apologized to the company employees after an ad controversy involving Fox News' Sean Hannity and his comments about Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Keurig CEO Bob Gamgort apologized to the company’s employees after the company faced intense backlash for cancelling ads on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show.

What’s the story here?

Keurig made the decision to bail on Hannity after the conservative news host aired an interview Friday with Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore (R), who is at the center of a scandal involving alleged sexual misconduct with underage women, on his radio show.

Hannity urged his viewers not to rush to judgment concerning the claims against Moore.

Keurig on Saturday announced that the company would no longer be advertising on Hannity’s show as a result of his comments about Moore.

What was the backlash against Keurig’s decision?

On Sunday, many of Hannity’s fans started a boycott of Keurig products. Others went even further and shared videos of themselves destroying their Keurig coffee machines.

Hannity responded to the outpouring of support on Sunday, and, on Twitter, wrote, “I am humbled and speechless and frankly laughing my ass off. I love all my deplorable friends. Thank you and Game on!!”

He added, “Deplorable friends, I am buying 500 coffee makers tomorrow to give away!! Details on radio and TV. Hint; best videos!!”

What was in the apology?

The apology explained Keurig’s decision to “pause” advertising on Hannity’s show, calling the action “highly unusual.”

Dear Keurig Team Members,

You are likely aware that Keurig became the focus of some media attention over the weekend related to a tweet issued from our official Twitter account on Friday. The tweet announced the withdrawal of advertising from “Hannity” in response to comments made on his program last week that were viewed as controversial by many of our consumers. This is to provide you with full transparency on the situation, our lessons learned and our path forward.

Like most consumer-oriented companies, Keurig’s media purchases are driven by delivery of ratings for our target consumer audience. We also have a defined set of programming guidelines to ensure we deliver our advertising in the right programming environment and protect our brand from objectionable content.

The fact is, our consumer demographics match well with live news programming, which is why we advertise on nearly all cable news channels, ranging from MSNBC to Fox to CNN, all of which will continue. However, given the dynamic nature of news, we always need to evaluate that programming environment on a real-time basis.

The catalyst for the current situation was commentary made by Sean Hannity on his TV and radio programs last week, which sparked a significant number of consumer complaints directed to us as advertisers on his TV program. Hannity himself later apologized for his comments in his own tweet: “As I said on TV tonight, I apologize when I misspoke and was not totally clear earlier today.”

In most situations such as this one, we would “pause” our advertising on that particular program and reevaluate our go-forward strategy at a later date. That represents a prudent “business as usual” decision for us, as the protection of our brand is our foremost concern. However, the decision to publicly communicate our programming decision via our Twitter account was highly unusual. This gave the appearance of “taking sides” in an emotionally charged debate that escalated on Twitter and beyond over the weekend, which was not our intent.

I want you to know the decision to communicate our short-term media actions on Twitter was done outside of company protocols. Clearly, this is an unacceptable situation that requires an overhaul of our issues response and external communications policies and the introduction of safeguards to ensure this never happens again. Our company and brand reputations are too valuable to be put at risk in this manner.

The nature of social media and the internet news environment is that stories like this explode, and generally do not disappear quickly. Given the circumstances, we wanted to reach out and communicate with you directly so you understood our position and the protocols we have in place.

I apologize for any negativity that you have experienced as a result of this situation and assure you that we will learn and improve going forward. As we all know, the external environment is changing rapidly. We need to dial-up our speed and responsiveness to stay ahead of these developments and we will.

Sincerely,
Bob

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