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August 22, 2011 by · 13 Comments 

General Mills appears caught in a “damned if it does; damned if it doesn’t” dilemma. After the Florida Family Association targeted General Mills and other advertisers of ABC Family Channel’s Pretty Little Liars following the coming out of a female character, General Mills became one of two advertisers — the other was the Remax realty chain — to pull its advertising from the show. When its decision was disclosed, it denied that it was responding to the protesters and cited instead the “relevance of the show’s audience for our brands.” E! Online, however, pointed out that last Tuesday the FFA had posted a copy of an email that it had received from Jeff Hagen, director of consumer services for General Mills, saying that following the receipt of its protest it had investigated and determined that ads for the company’s Ole El Paso brand were indeed running on Pretty Little Liars. “We have informed ABC Family Channel and our agencies that Pretty Little Liars is not a program that we will sponsor. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.” The publication of that email by E! Online produced a counter protest. On Sunday the FFA said on a website that it had received a follow-up email from Hagen after General Mills had received “protest emails from homosexual activists.” In it Hagen said, “My earlier email to you may have been misinterpreted. While this particular program is not one we sponsor, the sexual orientation of the characters was not a factor in that decision. General Mills does not make advertising placement decisions based on the sexual orientation of characters.”