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Advertisers between rock and hard place over 'Hannity' sponsorship

Five brands tweeted that they would avoid advertising on Fox News' "Hannity." The moves caused a near-instantaneous backlash among Sean Hannity's supporters.
Image: Sean Hannity speaks during a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz
Fox News Channel's Sean Hannity at a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz in Phoenix in March 2016.Rick Scuteri / AP file

Advertisers are yet again caught in the crosshairs of politics with no place good to go.

Five brands, including coffeemaker company Keurig, tweeted over the weekend that they would avoid advertising on Fox News' "Hannity." The show's advertisers were targeted on Twitter over the weekend by Angelo Carusone, president of the liberal activist group Media Matters for America, with notes accusing Hannity of attacking women for speaking out against sexual harassment.

The controversy arose after Fox News personality Sean Hannity interviewed embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on his radio show. While the interview was pointed — Hannity asked Moore to address the allegations that he inappropriately touched a 14-year-old girl decades ago — Hannity appeared to describe the encounter as "consensual," setting off a tweet storm over the weekend.

Hannity, speaking on another Fox show late last week, said that he misspoke and that he was referring to the other women who told The Washington Post last week that Moore had dated them when they were 18 or 19 years old and Moore was in his 30s.

Other advertisers responding to a tweet storm of protest over the weekend included, genetic testing company 23 and Me, vitamin company Nature's Bounty and a plus-size fashion firm, Eloquii.

The moves caused a near-instantaneous backlash among Hannity supporters, some of whom launched a crusade against Keurig coffeemakers. Hannity, himself, retweeted many of the messages.

The heated political environment has created a slew of headaches for marketers who are pilloried for supporting some news networks and then slammed when they pull their ads.

Ad boycotts, however, are no joke. The last Fox News ad boycott resulted in the departure of its top-rated host, Bill O'Reilly, in April, after 27 advertisers pulled their commercials in light of sex harassment allegations against the star. O'Reilly continues to deny the allegations.

The conservative site Breitbart also organized its own boycott of Kellogg's after the cereal maker joined other advertisers in saying they would no longer advertise on the site.

Fox News wasn't immediately available for comment.