Why Is Phoenix TV Station KPNX Letting a Campaign Ad Call KPNX Newscasts ‘Fake’ On Its Own Airwaves?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and watching the 10 O’Clock news on the NBC affiliate here in Phoenix when an ad for GOP gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake popped up and here’s she started the spot: “Hi, Arizona, I’m Kari Lake, the Trump-endorsed candidate for governor. If you’re watching this ad right now, it means you’re in the middle of watching a fake news program.”

Wait, what? KPNX – 12 News – is letting a candidate for Arizona governor use one of its newscasts to call KPNX newscasts fake? Do we need an intervention by M.C. Escher here, Doc?

– Fake Noose

Dear Fake Noose,

Yeah – bring out the corkscrews.

For starters, let’s look at Kari Lake’s minute-long spot.

What Lake says after her first statement is the key.

You know how to know it’s fake? Because they won’t even cover the biggest story out there – the rigged election of 2020. And rigged elections have consequences. We’re all feeling it. Soaring gas prices. A spike in homelessness. And an invasion on our border . . .

So why would 12 News put this obvious claptrap on its air?

Here’s what the station posted on its Verify page.

No, 12 News did not thwart Kari Lake from running a campaign ad

PHOENIX — Gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake claims one of her campaign ads was supposed to air on 12 News during Monday night’s broadcast. The former television anchor suggested on Twitter that 12 News may have violated federal rules that obligate stations to broadcast campaign ads.

If stations don’t air a candidate’s ad or offer opportunities to buy air time, then the Federal Communications Commission can take action against the station’s license.

Memo to KPNX director of sales Chad Kemper: Not to get technical about it, but here’s what the relevant FCC regulation actually requires.

Section 312 [47 U.S.C. §312] Administrative sanctions.

(a)   The Commission may revoke any station license or construction permit –

(7)   for willful or repeated failure to allow reasonable access to or to permit purchase of reasonable amounts of time for the use of a broadcasting station, other than a non-commercial educational broadcast station, by a legally qualified candidate for Federal elective office on behalf of his candidacy.

Bottom line: KPNX can’t reject advertising for a legally qualified candidate for federal elective office, but the station could totally reject an ad for, say, gubernatorial hopeful Kari Lake.

Except KPNX has not rejected her ad, which means this is less about FCC mandates and more about money, even if it means allowing a 2020 election denier to malign a legitimate news outlet on its own airwaves.

Paging Mr. Escher. Paging Mr. M.C. Escher.

CORRECTION: The Doc stopped before he got to this part of the FCC’s policy on Political Programming.

The FCC’s political programming and campaign advertising rules generally govern the circumstances under which broadcast stations and other regulatees air political-related advertisements.  The FCC’s Political Programming staff resolves issues relating to, among other things:

• “Reasonable access” by legally qualified candidates for federal office

• “Equal opportunities” (frequently referred to as “equal time”) for legally qualified federal, state, and local candidates

• The prohibition on censorship of candidate-sponsored ads

Presuming a Lake opponent was up on the air with ads, KPNX would have to accept her “fake news” spot.

The Doc regrets the error.

Are Peleton’s Wildly Expensive Newspaper Ads an Exercise in Futility?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and slogging through the Sunday New York Times (there really should be a federal subsidy for that, don’t you think?) when I came across this half-page ad.

That was followed by two more half-page Peloton ads and a full-page one – all in the Times A section, which on Sunday is the Ritz Carlton of advertising venues.

Here’s the thing, Doc: A woman I know – smart, well-read, beautiful – saw one of Peleton’s ads in the Times and this is all that registered with her.

Do Peloton’s ad people have any idea how real people see advertisements? I have my doubts.

– Peletone-Deaf?

Dear Peletone-Deaf,

For those of you keeping score at home, here are the other Peleton ads in Sunday’s Times.

A similar quartet of ads ran in Saturday’s Times and the Weekend Wall Street Journal.

As Phoebe Bain wrote in Marketing Brew earlier this month, “Between high supply and low customer acquisition, the brand’s marketing department is ‘under pressure to deliver,’ per Ad Age. Experts told the pub that fewer pricey campaigns and more investment in brand loyalists could be the company’s best plan of attack.”

Coincidentally, Monday’s Times featured an interview with new Peleton CEO Barry McCarthy – conducted by the paper’s DealBook macher Andrew Ross Sorkin and reporter Lauren Hirsch – in which McCarthy, the former chief financial officer of Spotify and Netflix, predictably came across as ten pounds of bravado in a five-pound bag.

As for the Peleton print ads, Peter Adams at Marketing Dive reported that “Peloton is pushing a new advertising campaign that includes testimonials from customers who were initially skeptical of the connected fitness brand but have since become loyal converts.”

Peloton’s latest ad campaign isn’t subtle. The marketer is throwing a spotlight on customers who have doubted it in the past but are now devoted to fitness regimens run through its connected bike and treadmill products. The implication is that Peloton will be able to weather its current headwinds based on its ability to foster long-term loyalty. Its services now wield about 6.6 million subscribers.

“This campaign is leading with the unvarnished voices of our members at a time of heightened skepticism because nothing is sharper than the truth,” said Dara Treseder, chief marketing officer of Peloton, in a press statement.

Those unvarnished voices, however, are not unanimous, as the Marketing Dive piece noted.

Posts on social media go deeper in profiling individual users who improved their lives thanks to Peloton. But digging into the comments reveals plenty of frustrated customers as well. Several Instagram users took the campaign as an opportunity to complain about no-show deliveries, issues with scheduling repairs on bikes and other technical issues — potential signs of the marketer’s broader operational issues.

Sounds like Peleton’s print campaign might turn out to be an overpriced coat rack.

Ride on . . .

What’s With the ‘MAGA Mom’ (and Kids) Wielding Rifles in Her Campaign Ad?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading Jim Swift’s Overtime newsletter in The Bulwark when I came across this note: “The strange thing about Dr. Oz… Stu Stevens on GOP ads.”

The link took me to a YouTube video that features former Obama comms guy Dan Pfeiffer interviewing veteran GOP media guru Stuart Stevens about some current campaign commercials from Republican candidates for federal office.

To be honest, Doc, I never got to the Mr. Oz spot (hey, right now he’s just a U.S. Senate wannabe in Pennsylvania, not a practicing physician) because I was stopped in my tracks by the ad for Mallory Staples, the self-proclaimed MAGA Mom seeking a Georgia Congressional seat.

Here’s the image from the ad that almost made my head explode.

What’s the deal, Doc – has fondling a firearm now become the cover charge for being a viable GOP candidate?

– Shot and a Chooser

Dear Shot,

It sure seems that way, doesn’t it?

For starters, here’s the full Mallory Staples spot.

As you say, she’s not the only GOP gunsel flaunting a firearm. Less than a week ago the Doc detailed the Shootout at the GOP Corral that U.S. Senate hopeful Jim Lamon is running in Arizona.

And then there are the recent Christmas cards from GOP incumbents who represent the Family Firearms Wing of the Republican party. Start with Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie.

That got an Xmas shoutout from Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert and her gun-toting kids.

You can expect this arms race to heat up like machine-gun bacon.in the months to come.

Good luck ducking it.

How Many Full-Page Cartier Ads Does It Take to Buy the New York Times?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads.

There I was, minding my own business and working my way through the Sunday New York Times (there really should be a federal subsidy for that, don’t you think?) when I realized that the paper contained an inordinate number of full-page ads for Cartier, the posh jewelry store in the Big Town.

Not only was there a four-page Cartier wrapper around yesterday’s edition of the Times, there were also full-page Cartier ads on the back page of every section of the paper.

What’s going on here, Doc?

– Diamond Errings?

Dear Diamond,

You’re right – it was Cartier Blanche in yesterday’s Times. In addition to that four-page wrapper, the Grey Lady was bejeweled with at least, by the Doc’s count, nine full-page Cartier ads, not to mention this footer ad on Page One.



There was also this ad in the A section.



And this ad in the Sports section.



And this ad in the Business section.



And etc.

Cartier also annexed the Times website yesterday.



And don’t forget: A Cartier native ad is your most important accessory.

But wait – there’s more, via Andrew Salomon’s Twitter feed.



As our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Attack noted a few years ago, New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet is unconcerned about advertisers coopting editorial content.

[Baquet] said that nothing has changed with regard to the advertising division’s relations with the editorial operation, which has always made its own decisions about coverage.

The difference today, he said, is that questions about the appropriate line between business and editorial come up more often. “In the print era, you created something. It worked or didn’t work,” he said. “Now, we’re in an era where those conversations happen more frequently and we have to move faster.”

Translation: The traditional Chinese Wall that separated advertising and editorial has turned into the Berlin Wall – knocked down and sold off brick by brick.

Why Is a U.S. Senate Candidate Firing a Gun at 3 Democratic Politicians in His Ad?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and scrolling through my Twitter feed when I came across this.



The Daily Wire piece by Ashe Schow starts out this way.

Jim Lamon, a Republican candidate in Arizona running for the U.S. Senate, released a controversial new ad this week that will run during the Super Bowl on Sunday.

In the ad, which takes place in an Old West-style town, an old man yells “It’s the D.C. Gang!” as three figures – two men and one woman – walk up the main street.

The figures are then introduced as “Old Joe” (Joe Biden), “Shifty Kelly” (Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona), and “Crazy Face Pelosi” (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California). A man wearing chaps and a leather vest with a Sheriff’s star on it approaches the gang, introduced as Jim Lamon.

Eventually . . . “[Lamon] fires three shots, taking out just the weapons of each of the politicians and sending them running away. No one was even fake physically hurt during the ad, but Democrats and others may find it in poor taste for Lamon to take a shot at Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was famously shot by a mentally ill man in 2011 during a campaign stop.”

What the hell is up with that, Doc?

– Lamonting It All

Dear Lamonting,

Videos of Arizona Republicans visiting violence on Democratic politicians seem to be all the rage in the Grand Canyon State these days.

First there was Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar (R-Even His Family Hates Him) retweeting a video of him beheading Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes.(D-What the Hell Is Wrong With You?).

Now comes Jim Lamon’s TV spot, which is slated to run in the Tuscon market during tonight’s Super Bowl broadcast.



A piece by Jack Dutton in Newsweek (which has become a steaming cauldron of crackpot conservative clickbait, as Alex Shephard has detailed in The New Republic) notes that Lamon is no stranger to controversy.

It is not the first time a Lamon ad that stoked outrage. In January, he released a commercial that used the phrase “Let’s go Brandon, which is a euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden.”

Yahoo refused to run the ad, saying it would only allow it if the phrase was omitted.

Lamon hit back, accusing Big Tech of stepping in “to help their liberal buddies who can’t win elections fairly.”

Clearly Lamon is a shoot first, answer questions later kind of guy. Typical Senate material in today’s GOP, no?

Why Is a U.S. Senate Candidate Burning the Confederate Flag and a Blunt in His Ads?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

There I was, minding my own business and reading the Washington Post when I came across this piece by Julian Mark.

A U.S. Senate candidate smoked marijuana in his last campaign ad. This time, he burned a Confederate flag.

Last month, Gary Chambers drew attention for sparking up a marijuana blunt in a political campaign ad. Now the Democrat from Louisiana is getting attention for sparking up something else: a Confederate flag.

The new ad shows Chambers, who’s running for U.S. Senate, dousing the flag in gasoline in slow motion and setting it ablaze as he denounces what he describes as systemic inequality among Black Americans and argues that “remnants of the Confederacy remain.”

“The attacks against Black people — our right to vote and participate in this democracy — are methodical,” Chamber says in the one-minute video released Wednesday, adding: “Our system isn’t broken; it’s designed to do exactly what it’s doing, which is producing measurable inequity.”

What the heck, Doc – isn’t the U.S. Senate supposed to be the world’s greatest deliberative body, not its most flammable?

– Burn Noticing

Dear Burn,

Let’s look at those two ads, shall we?

Here’s the one Chambers released last month, which runs for 37 seconds and notes that every 37 seconds someone is arrested for possession of marijuana.



According to the Post, that video has racked up 6.7 million views on Twitter.

Two days ago Chambers released Scars and Bars, which quickly got one million views on Twitter and over 300,000 looks on YouTube.



That’s some crazy-pants stuff for a U.S. Senate race, but maybe that’s what it takes for a badass Black candidate to get any traction in Louisiana, a state so backward its unofficial slogan is “Thank God for Mississippi.”

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, the Doc has roughly the same chance of beating incumbent Sen. John N. Kennedy (R-Who Else Ken I Insult) as Gary Chambers does.

But it will be a helluva lot more fun watching Chambers try to take that peckerhead down than anything the Doc might concoct.

Stay tuned for further details.

What’s With All Those Trombones in the New York Times Full-Page Ads?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So there I was minding my own business and working my way through the Sunday New York Times (for which there should be some sort of federal subsidy, don’t you think?) when I came across this two-page ad in the A section.


As far as I can tell, that double-truck had to cost at least $300,000. So why would the Winter Garden Theatre spend that much money to advertise, kind of, nothing?

– Womp Womp

Dear Womp Womp,

The Doc gets it – who has time to chase down teaser ads in this day and age, amirite?

Actually, the Doc does, given the slow pace of letters pouring into the old mailbag.

So we checked with that bastion of Broadway, Playbill:

Two-time Tony, Grammy, and Emmy winner Hugh Jackman will make his highly anticipated return to Broadway as Professor Harold Hill in Meredith Willson’s beloved classic, The Music Man. Two-time Tony-winning superstar Sutton Foster will star as Marian Paroo. The production, directed by four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks, with choreography by Tony winner Warren Carlyle, will begin performances on Dec. 20, 2021, and officially open on Feb. 10, 2022.

Wear a mask, yeah?

P.S. There are 76 trombones in the ad, for those of you keeping score at home.

Shouldn’t Mark Zuckerberg Just Set His Super Bowl Ad Money on Fire?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

It’s well known that Meta (a.k.a. Facebook/a.k.a. Instagram) is getting its ads kicked by TikTok and even Snapchat nowadays. So what is Mark (Data) Suckerberg doing about it?

Running a Super Bowl ad.

As Todd Wasserman reports at MediaPost, Meta’s big game ad will follow a fourth-quarter earnings report that included the company’s first-ever quarterly decline in daily active users.

Meta’s Super Bowl teaser, via Anomaly, features a shot of a virtual hangout called Questy’s. Questy’s looks a little worn, as the ad shows the restaurant at night, when it’s empty and dark (except for a flickering neon sign).

The ad is a direct reference to the Oculus Quest 2 headset, which Meta released last fall. Questy’s is actually a virtual hangout in Oculus that is a portal to games and other activities.

The music in the ad is a callback to TV themes of the 1980s that advance a good-timey virtual reality experience and a sign that Meta wants to leave behind the Internet and social media and instead usher users into a virtual world.

Empty restaurant? TV theme music of the 1980s? That’s what Zuck brings in the wake of last week’s knee-buckling 26% plunge in Meta’s share price, which vaporized $237 billion in market value?

Is this just wish-casting, Doc? Or what?

– MetAverse

Dear MetAverse,

For starters, here’s the teaser ad in question.

A 60-second version of the ad is scheduled to run in the first quarter of the Super Bowl at a cost of roughly $13 million, which is, of course, lunch money to Zuckerberg.

Problem is, he’s getting his lunch eaten by TikTok, as the Wall Street Journal’s Salvador Rodriguez reported yesterday.

Meta Faces Uphill Battle Against TikTok

Amid a dismal earnings report, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. on Wednesday highlighted its short-video product Reels as a bright spot and perhaps its best bet to kick-start flagging growth.

The challenge is that in the increasingly important fight for video dominance, Meta faces a heavyweight rival that is only getting stronger.

While Meta executives said Reels is now the company’s fastest-growing content format, ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok is growing even faster. It was the most-downloaded app of 2021, and overtook Meta’s Instagram in popularity among coveted young users.

That makes a switch to Reels and away from TikTok a tough sell for a lot of advertisers and creators.

Especially when you consider these numbers in the WSJ piece: “In 2021, TikTok reached 63% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 weekly, up from 50% a year prior, according to a November survey by Forrester. Instagram, meanwhile, declined from 61% in 2020 to 57% in 2021. Other industry data shows similar trends.”

So, to conclude: How many Americans between the ages of 12 and 17 do you think will be riveted to a TV screen for next Sunday’s Super Bowl broadcast?

Yeah, us too.

Not to be repetitive, but memo to Zuck: You should have just set that $13 million on fire.

Why Is Folgers Saying ‘Tough Beans’ to Grandmas?

Well the Doc opened up the old mailbag today and here’s what poured out.

Dear Dr. Ads,

So there I was, minding my own business and watching TV, when this Folgers commercial featuring Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation” crashed onto my television screen.

Here’s what MediaPost’s Steve Ellwanger reported about the new campaign.

Folgers Doesn’t Give A Damn That It’s ‘Your Grandma’s’ Coffee

J.M. Smucker Co. says it doesn’t give a damn about the reputation of Folgers as “your grandma’s coffee”—although it would like to engage more with younger consumers.

Hence a campaign that’s a blend of rebellion—as voiced by rock music icon Joan Jett—and a paean to Folgers’ New Orleans roots, as the 170-year-old brand reintroduces itself.

To say the 1993 “Bad Reputation” hit by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts is a far cry from Folgers’ 1980’s era jingle and tagline, “The best part of wakin’ up is Folgers in your cup,” is a major understatement.

What’s the deal, Doc? Why would Folgers Jett-ison its longtime campaign?

– Caffeind

Dear Caffeind.

First off, the Doc always thought that the best part of waking up was . . . waking up. Especially at our age.

Second, everyone needs to listen to Joan Jett’s Bad Reputation in full.

Third, the MediaPost piece noted this: “A shorter spot titled “Not Your Grandma’s Coffee” includes the grandmother and a voiceover that says ‘Heck yeah we are [grandma’s coffee], and 35 million more with equally excellent taste.’ The 35 million is a reference to the number of annual Folgers drinkers, according to Publicis and PSOne chief creative officer Erica Roberts.”



So to recap: Folgers isn’t actually looking to dump grandma; the brand just wants to give a wake-up call to the grandkids.

Bottoms up!