• Advertisers Should Steer Clear of VMA Controversies

    by  • August 25, 2015 • Advertiser Accountability, Awards Shows, Cable Choice • 11 Comments


    This coming Sunday, MTV will air the 32nd annual Video Music Awards, a program that has become synonymous with controversy.

    This years’ awards are to be hosted by Miley Cyrus – a former child star who still has a sizeable following of young fans, and who created a media frenzy on the same program just a couple of years ago when she simulated masturbation with a giant foam finger and “twerked” against Robin Thicke’s crotch during a joint performance.

    Because of the VMA’s history, and the host’s recent public performances (which have included simulated sex acts and approving references to drug use), the PTC reached out to past sponsors of the MTV Video Music Awards and urged them to carefully weigh any decision to buy time on the program this year. The Hollywood Reporter reports more about our call to advertisers here: Parents Television Council Urges Sponsors to Reconsider Advertising During VMAs (Exclusive), and here: The Reason This Group Is ‘Taking Action’ Against MTV and Miley Cyrus — and Giving a Strong Warning to Parents.

    MTV is not primarily targeting young adults – that much should be clear. They are aiming for young kids.

    Which is why in addition to urging advertisers to reconsider their support, the PTC is also urging parents to steer their kids away from the VMAs.

    MTV may be getting a bit long in the tooth, but its influence with young audiences is unabated. It’s their main selling point to potential sponsors.  Look at what MTV’s own Marketing division had to say about the network’s influence on young viewers just a few years ago:

    • [Teens] look to MTV to find out about their world in their language, from their point of view.
    • Young adults 15-17 are excited consumers and extremely impressionable. Now is the time to influence their choices.

    Watching MTV changes the attitudes and perceptions of young viewers.  At least two experiments show that watching MTV results in more permissive attitudes about sex.  One such experiment found that seventh and ninth graders were more likely to approve of premarital sex after watching MTV for just one hour.

    And it’s not just the sexual messages on MTV that influence teen behavior.  According to the Institute on Media and the Family, even modest viewing of MTV and other music videos results in significant exposure to glamorized depictions of alcohol and tobacco use, alcohol use linked with sexuality, and violence and weapons.  Violent lyric content can also contribute to teens’ desensitization to violence. 

    More than half the children in this country have television sets in their bedrooms.  Surveys indicate that 44% of children say they watch something different when they are alone than when they are with their parents, and 25% of those children choose MTV. 

    We are urging advertisers to do the responsible thing by refusing to underwrite these harmful media messages. But as parents, we have a role to play, too. If you are the parent of a child or teen still living at home, and you are reading this, make sure you know what your kids are watching this Sunday evening.




    Ms. Henson is a noted expert on entertainment industry trends and the how the impact of entertainment affects children and the American popular culture at large. She also directs the organization’s Advertiser Accountability Campaign, which encourages companies to sponsor family-friendly entertainment. She previously supervised the research and program content analysis operations of the PT and produced a number of groundbreaking PTC studies that document the levels of graphic sex, violence and profanity on television. Some of those reports include: The Ratings Sham I & II, Dying to Entertain, Faith in a Box, The Sour Family Hour, The Blue Tube, and TV Bloodbath. She began her career with the PTC in 1997 as an entertainment analyst, documenting instances of inappropriate content on television. Ms. Henson has appeared on a variety of television shows including Fox News Channel’s The O’Reilly Factor, Your World with Neil Cavuto, The Big Story, CNN Headline News’ ShowBiz Tonight, CNBC’s On the Money, MSNBC’s Scarborough Country, and CBN’s Newswatch. She is a frequent guest on radio talk shows across the country and has been quoted extensively in news sources such asEntertainment Weekly, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, USA Today, New York Daily News, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Variety, Associated Press, Reuters, and Bloomberg. Ms. Henson is a graduate of the University of Virginia where she received a BA in Government. She resides in Falls Church, Va., with her husband and their son.

    11 Responses to Advertisers Should Steer Clear of VMA Controversies

    1. john fielding
      September 2, 2015 at 1:53 am

      You know, at first I thought these Miley Cyrus commercials were just another sad attempt by a washed up former teen idol to coast on her waning popularity. But now, I really that they’re actually a huge middle finger aimed right at you people. And for that, I applaud her. Well done Miley Cyrus.

    2. Danielle
      August 29, 2015 at 2:28 pm

      I wanted to share your link but I didn’t want that picture of Miley posted on my facebook!

    3. Robert
      August 28, 2015 at 8:20 pm

      I doubt it will be that bad, as last year’s event was pretty tame, even with Nicki Minaj having performed. Miley as a host probably won’t do anything too outlandish, as that’s usually reserved for the musical performances. Also, usually the worst thing that happens (which most people overlook during the initial airing as something that’s no big deal, gets “blown up” by the media, replaying it over and over again. So, while younger viewers might not catch it, they will the next day from media sources (AOL, Yahoo, ABC, ect.) making a mountain out of a molehill. The same gets done with politicians statements, among other things, to generate “outrage” over something inconsequential, while very big issues still loom overhead (fur hunting, education reform, factory farming, human trafficking, ect.) that get overlooked because the country is too distracted worrying about what outrageous thing some famous individual partook in.

    4. jhriver@mac.com
      August 28, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      I am praying for morality to return to the U.S.A!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    5. Julie Hagen
      August 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Won’t watch. The envelope has been pushed too far. Modeling inappropriate behavior to the public, especially our youth has “normalized” abnormal behavior. Not entertained by it.

    6. sharon rodriguez
      August 28, 2015 at 11:44 am

      I will NOT be watching the VMA awards. The very fact that Miley Cyrus is hosting it is a turn off. Families are donating all their Hanna Montana merchandise to thrift stores. Could it be that her star has plummeted? She used to be cute. Now, not so much.

    7. Don
      August 28, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Wholesome is always best!

    8. Melissa
      August 28, 2015 at 7:30 am

      The influx of sex on award shows are incomprehensible. Is this the new low we have come to in order to get ratings? Do these award shows not have enough imagination to create a good show without luring viewers, especially very young viewers to acts of soft porn to gather attention to watching. Does anyone not realize that promoting casual sex, soft porn and promiscuity contributes to hardened emotions toward the opposite sex being seen as simple objects that can be used and abused to satisfy a persons desire that lacks love and emotion which leads to rape, molestation, cheating which leads to divorce? Have our values sunk so low that we are now luring adolescents into an emotionless sex based lifestyle? Watching a show with my 10 year old son where a “pop up” of Miley Cyrus seductively licking her lips for 30 seconds is DISGUSTING to say the least. Never mind the commercials of her strutting around half naked. What happened to the glamour of Hollywood as our family would ALL be able to sit around and admire the fully dressed woman and men in style and class? And see performances that entertained out of creativity and not by stripping? You’ve pushed the envelope so much the only next step is to have everyone show up completely naked. Get some standards back for Heavens sake! Stop creating shows that are thought from between your legs. You are harming our young generation into thinking porn is an expression of love. Then we are surprised by the consequences that follow for poor victims of sexual abuse or affairs. Really? Hollywood pushes that agenda by reaching millions of viewers by promoting raunchiness. T.V. is the window that opens the flood gates to disaster. You need to take accountability for promoting such filth and contributing to vulnerable minds who will eventually do something terrible because of the smut being made to look acceptable and promoting it. How do you sleep at night? Think of your daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, wives, husbands. You are promoting sexual violence and affairs. If God forbid something bad hits close to home remember you promoted it.

    9. Pat
      August 28, 2015 at 5:16 am

      Programs shown on TV during the hours our children watch should not contain sexuality, references to drugs, alcohol abuse, violence or suicide. Sex is used by companies ONLY TO MAKE MONEY. They care nothing of LOVE AND RESPECT for others. Money is their God and they do not care who gets hurt so they can make more. It is time we stand up and demand accountability on programing and advertising. Responsible parents do protect their children from bad influences but many children do not have parents home. Many must work odd hours and babysitters don’t care what the kids watch as long as they are quiet and out of trouble. Lets teach our kids the good things of life not the bad.

    10. Phyllis Bove
      August 28, 2015 at 4:09 am

      How wonderful it would be if talented performers would entertain us with dignity and respect for themselves and their bodies.

    11. Red
      August 27, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Thanks, but I really didn’t need a description of Cyrus’s antics. I knew that she had stirred up a fuss for some kind of raunchy sexual behavior, but I didn’t know exactly what it was, never having watched the VMAs, and had no particular desire to find out.

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