Shock Marketing: The Glenn Beck Method

Glenn Beck is killing it. TIME cover story, a Frank Rich op-ed in The New York Times, and—oh yeah—his hour-long show on Fox News Channel that on a good night can attract more than 6 million eyeballs. The Beck brand fires on all cylinders, according to TIME, with a web site that more than 5 million people per month read, best-selling books, a weekly podcast seen by 1.5 million, an online magazine and a series of live performances that have attracted more than 200,000 fans. His radio program is the nation's third-most popular, heard on almost 400 radio stations and on satellite.

But “popular” is not always synonymous with “invincible”—Beck’s rapid rise may have cost his personal brand some credibility, according to some. James Rucker of claims that 62 television advertisers have told his organization they will not be advertising on Glenn Beck’s program due to a boycott the group organized. A Fox News spokesperson told news industry blog TVNewser that those numbers are “wildly inaccurate on all fronts.” The truth is that some advertisers were not initially aware their ads were running specifically on Beck’s program, though they did request that Fox not run the ads on the program in the future.  

Losing advertisers may be embarrassing, but it’s also attention-getting: we don’t hear of Larry King or Brian Williams losing ad spots—but they also don’t enjoy Beck’s level of viral pull. Dan Schawbel, personal branding guru and author of “Me 2.0: Build a Powerful Brand to Achieve Career Success,” believes Beck shouldn’t worry about advertisers pulling away. “Beck has been able to take his platform, grow it into a national presence, while becoming a #1 New York Times bestselling author multiple times over. Few can make those claims and he shouldn’t pay attention to advertisers who have lost interest because it’s a content driven world and the right ones will find him and make money!” Schawbel told MainStreet.

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