State Farm, Glenn Beck and Social Media

Recently, the left wing blogosphere has taken a page from the right wing playbook and has been petitioning corporations that advertise on Fox News (specifically on shows like the Glenn Beck Show) in response to the increasingly shrill and inaccurate coverage the network has been airing in regard to the healthcare debate but also Beck’s comments that he thinks Barack Obama is a racist.

One of the advertisers targeted was State Farm, which pulled its ads, not  (it claims) as a result of the petition but because it has a policy of not advertising on any political show [Disclosure: My dad is a State Farm agent and I worked in his office for several years].  Like many other companies, State Farm has established a presence on social media platforms like Facebook in recent years, and they’re hearing from some of their customers on their Facebook wall.

To State Farm’s credit, they appear not to have censored the comments and they’re responding to them as they come in and doing an excellent job of it.  Here’s a sample of one of the exchanges:

Dub Phillips: “I am disturbed by reports of the possibility of your pulling advertising on the Glenn Beck show. I have been informed it is due to threats of boycott from a very militant anti-American group.
Is that the kind of response we can expect from your compa…ny? I am a very concerned American Citizen watching our great society of freedom and opportunity being destroyed and I expect some common sense from companies like yours.”

State Farm: “State Farm has a policy of not advertising in political or opinion programs. Commercials mistakenly aired in this program. We have corrected this issue and have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again. Our customers and associates hold many… political viewpoints, thus our long-standing practice of not advertising in opinion programs regardless of the point of view.”

Some of the best responses have come from agents themselves as opposed to directly from State Farm Corporate.  Rick Hittle, and agent in the Dallas / Ft. Worth area posted this:

“State Farm is by far the largest insurance company in America with millions of customers expressing every possible political view. It would therefore be a poor business decision to advertise on a politically oriented program, be it Glenn Beck or Larry King. As a State Farm Agent, I would encourage those thinking of switching to first speak to their Agent about his or her views on the issue. You might just find that your Agent agrees with your political views. If not, switch Agents not insurance companies.”

The Fox News advertising flap isn’t the only issue they’re being challenged on – an advocacy organization opposed to breed-specific legislation also took the opportunity to engage with them about the policies concerning pit bulls, and State Farm took the opportunity to have an open and positive dialogue with them.

This is a good direction for large organizations to be taking; putting a face on the faceless.  I hope it continues.

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