Why Can Hollywood Advertise in 'Skins' While Other Marketers Have to Run?

Hollywood Fills Commercial Void as Taco Bell, GM, Subway and Others Exit MTV Show Under Pressure

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LOS ANGELES (AdAge.com) -- MTV's "Skins" returned last night after its racy content featuring teenage actors prompted advertisers such as General Motors, Subway, Schick, Wrigley and H&R Block to pull their ads from future episodes. So whose ads aired during Monday's second episode? Lots and lots of movie studios, for starters.

'Skins,' episode 2
'Skins,' episode 2 Credit: MTV
Sony's Adam Sandler comedy "Just Go With It" was well-represented with multiple spots, as was the studio's Screen Gems thriller "The Roommate"; other advertisers included Warner Bros.' "The Rite" and "Unknown"; DreamWorks and Disney's "I Am Number Four"; Millennium Films' "The Mechanic"; and Universal's "Sanctum 3-D."

So why are movies comfortable being seen supporting "Skins" when fast-food chains, for example, are running away? It helps that all of the films advertised carried a rating of PG-13 or R. That makes it harder for critics, such as the Parents Television Council, to complain about the damage to young viewers; these movies are aimed at 13-year-olds at least and in may cases 17-year-olds.

But the Parents Television Council, which has led the public-relations campaign against advertisers on "Skins," also seems more concerned with enduring consumer brands than a fleeting presence like a movie release.

"It's a different dynamic when you're talking about movie previews," Dan Isett, a public policy director for the Parents Television Council, told Ad Age yesterday. "It's simply media companies propping each other up -- one form of commercial-media-buying time on another form of commercial media," he said. "It's not quite the same thing as associating a corporate brand with the type of content one sees on a show like 'Skins.' Which is not to say we're not concerned."

Today the Parents Television Council warned Red Bull and skin-care marketer Zeno Hot Spot for appearing during the second episode of "Skins," but gave the movies a pass.

"We extend our thanks to Foot Locker, L'Oreal, Schick, and Subway for heeding our call to cease underwriting the dangerous content on MTV's 'Skins,'" group president Tim Winter said in a statement. "Of the eight advertisers we called out publically [sic] after the premiere, none of them appeared in the second episode. Our sincere hope is that no advertiser would willingly sponsor a program that glorifies teen drug and alcohol abuse, in addition to sexual content involving minors that could actually be illegal."

"The advertiser lineup for the second episode mostly contained promos for other MTV and Viacom programming along with movies that carried either R or PG-13 ratings ," Mr. Winter added. "However, our members and other concerned parents will not stop contacting companies that endorse underage alcohol and drug abuse. Red Bull and Zeno Hot Spot are the next two that will be asked to defend their sponsorship of the graphic content on 'Skins,'"

An MTV spokesman did not return a request for comment regarding the second episode's sponsors, but previously told Ad Age that it talks with advertisers about the best fits for them in MTV's schedule. "We know that not every show works for every advertiser," he said. "That said, we are confident that 'Skins' will continue to connect with the audience it was created for and that advertisers will take advantage of the opportunity to reach them."

Also featured during "Skins" commercial breaks? An ad for the Electronic Arts video game "Dead Space 2," which is also unlikely to raise parents groups' eyebrows because it's rated M for "mature."

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