The Parents Television Council (PTC) is claiming victory after seven companies dropped their advertising from the Chicago-set 1960s drama “The Playboy Club,” airing Mondays at 10/9c on NBC. The conservative media watchdog group announced Wednesday (September 28) that they are now calling for the immediate cancellation of series, which they say objectifies and degrades women.
“What has been clear to everyone outside of NBC must now be clear even to those inside NBC: ‘The Playboy Club’ is a commercial disaster and must be removed from the airwaves,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a press release. “We call for the network to cancel this degrading and sexualizing program immediately.”
The PTC points to the fact that seven of the show’s sponsors — including Subway, Kraft, Campbell’s Soup, Lenovo, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Sprint and UPS — pulled their ads from this week’s episode as proof that they have been successful in their boycott of the show. Of course, advertisers may be exiting for another reason: low ratings.
The drama series premiered to a disappointing 5 million viewers last week, while Monday’s episode dropped 19% to just 3.9 million viewers. On TvbyTheNumbers.com, which tracks daily TV ratings, “The Playboy Club” is predicted to be the first cancelled series on NBC, if not all broadcast networks.
Whatever the cause, the group is forging ahead with its boycott until NBC decides to cancel the series, calling on its members to contact remaining sponsors Samsung, Capitol One and Chrysler “until they cease sponsorship of a broadcast television program that is mainstreaming the pornography industry.”
However, Chrysler has publicly stated that it will continue to advertise during “The Playboy Club” despite the PTC’s campaign.
“Many variables are utilized when deciding where product advertisements are shown. Like other companies and auto manufacturers, the brands of Chrysler Group LLC advertise using a variety of mediums, including broadcast, to reach broad audiences,” a spokesperson for the company, Dianna C. Gutierrez, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“We recognize that not all advertising placement is liked by all individuals. We do not take this approach to offend, but we feel that it is important to deliver information about our products to a diverse and broad audience,” she adds.
The group had a similar tactic when it went after MTV’s “Skins,” which saw the majority of its sponsors pull their ads after the first few episodes due to the show’s explicit content. It was eventually cancelled after one season due to low ratings. However, “The Playboy Club’s” content is rather tame by comparison, but the PTC maintains that it’s not the content of the show they object to, but the Playboy brand in general, which “remains the epitome of sexism.”
The series has attracted a fair amount of controversy since it was first announced earlier this year. The Mormon-owned Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL-TV opted to ban the series from their network before viewing the pilot, though it was later picked up by local My Network TV affiliate KMYU.
Feminist activist and former Playboy bunny Gloria Steinem also called for a boycott of the series, claiming that it misrepresented what it was like to work at the Playboy Club during that era. The show also received poor reviews from critics following its premiere. NBC has declined to comment on the PTC’s release or the significance behind the sponsors’ exit.
The show is still filming in Chicago as evidenced by this Craigslist ad looking for extras that was posted late last week. A new modern-day Playboy Club is expected to open in the Windy City early next year, while a portion of Hugh Hefner’s original Playboy Mansion is currently on the market for $6,700,000.
“The Playboy Club” continues Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.