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TheStreet Open House

Claim: Fox Ad Flap Hurts 'Jesus Hates Obama'

LOS ANGELES ( TheStreet) -- Conservative comedian Richard Belfry thought he hit the jackpot after News Corp.'s (NWS) Fox Sports agreed in principle to play a commercial for his merchandise brand -- Jesus Hates Obama -- during Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6.

Representatives from both sides came to the table in November and agreed to a $2.3 million deal for the commercial to air in the last space available -- a 30-second spot right before the kickoff between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. All Belfry had to do was submit the commercial for approval.

Unfortunately, what happened next was not in Belfry's plan: In early December, when the commercial was submitted, Fox Sports rejected it, saying it wasn't up to the channel's standards.

A Fox Sports spokesman declined via e-mail to talk about the case or "our broadcast standards policies" in general.

Belfry thinks of himself as a small-business owner trying to get traction for his brand and product -- T-shirts, hats and beer mugs with anti-Obama messages, launched in 2009 and sold from a van at events. Last summer, he was approached by private investors and began expanding.

"We literally only launched the website Jesus Hates Obama in November," Belfry says.

There was also about $3 million to spend on advertising, Belfry says. While several ideas were tossed around to reach his target market, such as advertising with NASCAR, he ultimately decided to go as big as possible. "Our big advertising kickoff was going to be the Super Bowl," he says.

Belfry, who considers himself a "poor man's Dennis Miller," is looking elsewhere for ad spots, possibly online and through paid digital sponsorships, since other networks and cable companies have also pulled the plug as a result of the recent negative attention.

"If there is any network that would take this, we thought it would be Fox," Belfry told TheStreet. "People were saying this was a stunt. In reality, this is actually now hurting our marketing."

Many industry analysts and reporters say the small business' Super Bowl flap hasn't resonated with them. But -- in an indication of the firestorm Fox may have avoided with its decision -- at least one expert had a reaction that was emotional as well as analytical.

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