Sean Hannity fans boycott Keurig, but will it make a dent?
Mix together a popular coffee maker, a conservative TV host and a politician accused of dating teenage girls, and the result is a potent brew of consumer anger.
The #BoycottKeurig hashtag started when coffee maker Keurig said it had pulled ads from "Hannity," the top-rated cable news show hosted by Fox News' Sean Hannity. The decision came after some consumers expressed concerns to the coffee company about host Sean Hannity's coverage of sexual misconduct allegations against Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama.
Brands carefully scrutinize where their ads appear, snubbing outlets that might reflect badly on their image. Yet conservative fans responded by expressing outrage with Keurig's decision, prompting the #BoycottKeurig hashtag and posting videos of themselves destroying their Keurig machines.
Whether their efforts will make much of a dent in Keurig's business remains to be seen, given that Hannity's 3.2 million viewer base represents a fraction of the tens of millions of Keurig machines in businesses and homes.
The boycott echoes other recent backlashes over advertisers' decisions to pull ads due to political content, an issue that appears to be on the rise in the year since President Donald Trump won the 2016 election. Last year, Kellogg's (K) pulled its ads from alt-right site Breitbart, saying the publication's views didn't align with its own values. Breitbart in turn declared "war" on the cereal company and called for its readers to boycott its products.
While Keurig is the focus of the "Hannity" backlash, several other advertisers have pulled their spots from the show, including Realtor.com, 23 and Me and Nature's Way.
Hannity is coming under fire for his coverage of Moore, who was accused of having sexual contact with a 14-year-old girl when he was 32 and an assistant district attorney. According to an account in The Washington Post, Moore volunteered to watch the girl while her mother attended a child custody hearing and later allegedly initiated a sexual encounter.
Some consumers wrote to Keurig on Twitter to reconsider their ad support after the host appeared to defend Moore and questioned the allegations. Keurig responded by saying it had dropped its ads from the program.
"Thank you for your concern and for bringing this to our attention," Keurig responded to one user. "We worked with our media partner and Fox [N]ews to stop our ad from airing during the Sean Hannity Show."
Conservative fans expressed their outrage, posting photos and videos of destroyed Keurig coffee machines. Some wrote on Twitter that Hannity had been treated unfairly and, in their view, hadn't supported Moore.
Hannity expressed his thanks to his supporters on Twitter, writing he that his "humbled and speechless."
Companies commonly shift they sponsorships to protect their brand. That suggests Keurig may have pulled its ads not because of Hannity's conservative leaning, but rather because of concern the company could be viewed as indirectly supporting a political candidate dogged by serious sexual abuse allegations.
Keurig didn't immediately reply to a request for comment.
Others expressed amusement by the destruction of Keurig coffee makers, pointing out that conservatives wrecking machines had already paid for the appliance.
Still, Keurig makes money not only on its machines, but on its coffee pods. It is unclear if the angry "Hannity" fans are a large enough group to hurt the company's coffee sales.
The show has about 3.2 million viewers, according to Forbes. That tops both "The Rachel Maddow Show" and "Tucker Carlson Tonight. Yet even if all of those "Hannity" viewers owned a Keurig machine, it would still represent a fraction of Keurig's consumer base. More than 30 million Keurig coffee machines were sold between 2012-2015 alone, according to company financial statements.
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