Unless you've been living under a rock, and a pretty big one, by now you know that Rush Limbaugh's latest rants have cost him advertisers. The number of advertisers pulling their commercials from his shows is now up to 46. Some of them are national companies, some are local businesses. But they all have something in common. They don't want to be associated with an individual whose only exercise comes from the exercise of his first amendment right to spew inflammatory and offensive rhetoric.
Many have written about how advertisers jumping ship shows that companies don't want to be associated with those who offend large segments of the population. I won't go into that, because it's been covered extensively.
What I will go into -- and this is something I know about as someone who's worked in the media field for decades -- is why it was a bad marketing decision to go on Limbaugh's show in the first place.
Successful marketing is all about reaching the right people with the right message so that when they need your product, they think of you. Think about the Super Bowl ads. How many people gawked at Candice Michelle when the first GoDaddy ads were released and thought nothing about domain names? But when you need to register a website, what's one of the first places you think about? That's marketing that works.
That ad worked because it was reaching a big audience across all demographic groups, and with the explosion of personal websites, GoDaddy needed to reach everyone.
I don't have the demographics for Limbaugh's show, so I went to the data for his website. And what did I find?
Not surprisingly, his audience skews old, skews white, and skews male. What is interesting is the degree to which this is true.
Only 21 percent of Limbaugh's audience is between 18-34, versus 29 percent for the internet as a whole. His audience of 34-54 year olds is 48 percent, versus 36 percent for the internet in general.
And his audience for 55+ listeners is 28 percent, which is way above the 16 percent internet average.
When it comes to the gender split, it's a total sausage fest. I'll bet you there are parties at MIT and Caltech that have a better women to men ratio than Limbaugh's show does. It's about two-thirds men.
Finally, Limbaugh's show is as segregated as the old South. More than nine out of ten of its listeners are white. Three percent are black, four percent are Hispanic, and Asians and others comprise one percent of his audience.
So why is advertising on his show a horrible marketing decision? For many reasons.
First, think about people's life cycle. When you're 18-34, you're just starting out, so you need to buy insurance, a car, a house, and all the things that go with being an adult. When you're 34-54, you're in your prime earning and spending years, as you're making more money and buying things with that money. And as you get to 55+, your thoughts generally turn to retirement and saving for it or living it. You're not spending as much. Plus, most of your spending decisions have been made.
Second, women make 85 percent of the spending decisions and influence 95 percent of them. The days of women just wanting to choose the color of a car are over. Now they're the ones telling their husbands what they can and cannot buy or most frequently, buying it on their own.
Finally, the country is getting much more diverse -- something that Limbaugh's listeners don't like. And the fastest growing segments of the population are the non-white ones. If you're only reaching tiny portions of them with your advertising message, you're spending your money foolishly.
Let's take one of Limbaugh's advertisers, Sleep Train. Who would you think is their typical customer? Someone who's 18-34, and needs to buy a mattress when they move into an apartment of their own for the first time? Or someone who's over 65, and already has one?
You can make similar cases for many of Limbaugh's other advertisers. Why would you want to reach an audience that's old, white, and male? Yes, they have more money, but do you think they're spending it on products you sell? Even brokerages would be well advised to avoid Limbaugh. Sure, older people have more money, but they've also probably got a financial advisor who they've worked with for decades and grown old with. Guess what? They're not switching.
There are a few products that would fit Limbaugh's audience, though. One of those products is something that Limbaugh himself is very familiar with.
It's the little blue pill older men turn to for help all the time and the same one he got busted with during a trip to the Dominican Republic.
Pfizer, you can buy advertising for cheap and reach an audience that needs your product. Make the call.