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Orbitz responds as thousands of customers tell them: No more business until you drop Fox

Community/Meta

By Adam Bink

Two press releases below describe what is going on with the campaign.

On Thursday and Friday, thousands of customers flocked to Orbitz’s Facebook page to tell them: no more business until you stop funding anti-gay media.

Meanwhile, Orbitz has responded by ignoring the substance of what they are doing, instead choosing to repeat over and over how much they love the gays. It’s a smart tactic, but as you can read in some of the messages on their Facebook wall, people know they are supportive of our community, but sometimes even friends must correct friends.

A classic example is what Orbitz posted on their Facebook page yesterday in response, which doesn’t even get at the criticism:

Customer Al Wirtes comments in response:

These are admirable goals, Orbitz. And you make an excellent case for why your company should cease advertising on FOX News. Please consider the integrity of all media outlets that receive your advertising dollars. You can choose where to spend your money just as I can choose where to spend mine.

Exactly right. There are other options. As long as they pay Bill O’Reilly’s salary so he can tell millions of viewers how gay marriage is like marrying animals, there’s a problem. Until then, Orbitz can stubbornly keep losing customers over ads on one network when they have plenty of other choices. If they want to stand up for equality, they can do it by cutting off their funding for inequality.

Head over to tell Orbitz they have a choice to make.

 

Courage Campaign
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  May 20, 2011 

MEDIA CONTACT: Ana Beatriz Cholo, 312-927-4845 (cell), press@couragecampaign.org

Backlash: Orbitz Swarmed by Angry LGBT Customers on Facebook

More than 35,000 customers have signed letter asking them to stop advertising on Fox News; thousands are flocking to Orbitz’s Facebook wall vowing to boycott the online travel agency

Los Angeles – Orbitz may end up losing thousands of customers and revenue because they refuse to stop advertising on Fox News, progressive grassroots organization Courage Campaign said today.
In less than four days, more than 35,000 individuals have signed a letter to Orbitz CEO Barney Harford asking him to stop placing travel ads on the anti-gay television network. As of this press release, 1,352 customers have also taken to Orbitz’s Facebook wall to inform them that they will not be using Orbitz to book their travel until they stop.
The Courage Campaign, along with Media Matters for America, GLAAD and Equality Matters, launched the campaign on Monday. Orbitz’s travel site, which previously was a strong supporter of and marketer to the LGBT community, has generated strong business growth for Orbitz.
“It’s hypocritical to cater to our community, take our money and then turn around and give it to Fox so the network can broadcast lies about LGBT people and our issues,” said Adam Bink, Director of Online Programs for the Courage Campaign. “If Orbitz wants to maintain a gay-friendly image and keep their loyal customers, they should reconsider where they are buying ads because as you can see by some of these Facebook posts, folks are very angry that their money is being used to promote hate.”
“If you have a ‘strict policy of tolerance and non-discrimination’ then why advertise on a network that blatantly and regularly attacks the gay community?” Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, asked of Orbitz.
An average of 52 messages per hour are being posted on Orbitz’s Facebook page. Click here to read.
Adiva Wayne, a national and international traveler who’s been a longtime Orbitz customer, posted on Facebook: “I will no longer be using Orbitz for bookings. If Orbitz wishes to choose Fox “News” hatred over previously loyal customers (while portraying itself as an LGTB-friendly company, considering other adverts), it can stand to lose the millions of dollars in business.”
David B. Karpf, another former loyal customer in Maryland, said: “I will not use Orbitz in the future as long as they advertise on the Fox News Network, and their advertising dollars support the bigoted, racist, homophobic views and outright lies and pandering espoused by most of the Fox commentators.”
The Courage Campaign is taking these actions because we are frankly tired of this station’s history of destructive anti-gay language and actions, including:
• Giving Mike Huckabee his own show despite Huckabee’s history of comparing homosexuality to drug abuse, incest, pedophilia, and necrophilia. Huckabee has repeatedly used his Fox platform to campaign against gay marriage, and he has suggested that marriage equality poses a threat to stable society.
• Bill O’ Reilly repeatedly using his popular prime time show to warn against the “dangers” of allowing gay people near children, to assert that same-sex marriage could lead to polygamy, nuptials with turtles, ducks or dolphins, and to claim that implementing a hate crimes bill could protect pedophiles.
• Perpetuating the claim that repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” would impact troop readiness and morale, despite multiple reports — including the Pentagon’s — to the contrary.
It’s time Orbitz paid attention to what they are hurting.
###

Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. Through a one-of-a-kind online tool called Testimony: Take A Stand, the Courage Campaign is chronicling the sights, sounds and stories of LGBT families and all who wage a daily struggle against discrimination across America. For more information about Testimony, please visit, http://www.couragecampaign.org/testimony.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, May 20, 2011

CONTACT

Jess Levin (202) 772-8162

jlevin@mediamatters.org

Equality Matters Responds To Orbitz

Statement notes that its unclear how Orbitz’s policy of tolerance comports with Fox’s attacks on the LGBT community

Washington, DC — Equality Matters released the following statement from spokesperson Trevor Thomas in response to a series of attacks from Orbitz after LGBT organizations Courage Campaign, GLAAD, and Equality Matters joined with DropFox in asking the company to stop sponsoring Fox News due to its long history of anti-LGBT bigotry:

I’m disappointed to see Orbitz dismiss our concerns as a mere political disagreement. We’re not talking about coming out against policies; from comparing homosexuality to necrophilia to equating same-sex marriage to marrying a duck, Fox has a history of mocking and belittling the LGBT community.

It’s unclear to me how Orbitz’s strict policy of tolerance and non-discrimination’ comports with Fox News’ pattern of attacks on the LGBT community.

I’m also surprised to see them claim that the letter addressed to them ‘mischaracterized’ their record with the LGBT community. In fact, we explicitly stated that we reached out to Orbitz because they’ve  have been such a good friend to the LGBT community – a relationship that they characterize as one of their ‘5 Pillars of Global Responsibility.’ We wanted to encourage them to protect themselves from being associated with Fox News when Fox inevitably airs their next indecent anti-gay screed.

I hope Orbitz will actually read our entire letter and then decide whether the examples we provided on DropFox.com meet their stated policy of “tolerance.”
REBUTTING THEIR POINTS:

What they said: Orbitz spokeswoman via The Advocate Monday, May 16 at approximately 7:55 PM:

A spokeswoman for Orbitz, sent The Advocate a statement Monday, sharing that the company was disappointed that GLAAD “mischaracterized [their] relationship with LGBT consumers,” especially since it has worked with the organization in the past. The company also points out that it has a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Workplace Equality Index, and has sponsored several gay-themed events, in addition to its LGBT travel site.

“Our advertising, which integrates inclusive messaging reflective of our diverse audience, will continue to respect and serve the needs of ALL travelers no matter their politics, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender,” Donahue said. [The Advocate, 5/16/11]

RESPONSE: We explicitly state that Orbitz has been a friend to the LGBT community in the letter and this is why they might want to rethink their relationship to Fox given their disturbing pattern of airing homophobic content. We have asked for clarification of what specifically has been “mischaracterized” and received none.

What they said: Brian Hoyt, VP of Communications via Twitter Thursday, May 19 at approximately 8 pm

@SpinDoctorHoyt Brian Hoyt
Don’t believe the hype about @Orbitz. Tolerance and equality for all.
15 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry®

RESPONSE: It’s precisely because of their commitment to tolerance that they need to rethink their financial support of Fox News’ homophobic content.

What they said: Brian Hoyt, VP of Communications via Hollywood Reporter, Thursday, May 19 at approximately 8:43 pm:

“This is a political organization that has been funded pretty extensively to go after one network, and we aren’t going to engage in that fight,” Orbitz spokesman Brian Hoyt said. [The Hollywood Reporter, 5/19/11]

RESPONSE: Media Matters is an organizing devoted to fighting misinformation, hate speech, and bigotry on the airwaves. Fox is a primary offender, and so we focus on them. Our allies in this campaign are devoted to civil rights in the LGBT community. Fox’s pattern of homophobic content is extensive and should not be financially supported by friends of the LGBT community.

What they said: Brian Hoyt, VP of Communications via Hollywood Reporter, Thursday, May 19 at approximately 8:43 pm:

“We have a strict policy of tolerance and non-discrimination, and that means we don’t favor one political side over another. Tolerance is a two-way street,” he said. “We’re going to advertise on conservative TV stations, liberal TV stations and — if there are any out there — unbiased news broadcasts.” [The Hollywood Reporter, 5/19/11]

RESPONSE: This is not about politics or policies: it’s about Fox’s clear history of mocking and belittling gay people.
What they said: Brian Hoyt, VP of Communications via Hollywood Reporter, Thursday, May 19 at approximately 8:43 pm:

“We haven’t bowed to any boycott in the past, and we won’t bow to these types of smear campaigns in the future,” Hoyt said. [The Hollywood Reporter, 5/19/11]

RESPONSE: We did not call for a boycott in the letter, only that Orbitz examine the evidence in front of them and evaluate whether those statements meet their own stated tolerance policy. If not, they should reconsider their financial support of the network.

13 Comments

  • 1. Kathleen  |  May 21, 2011 at 1:11 am

    For those who can't access Facebook, here's a direct link to the Orbitz Press Release:
    http://pressroom.orbitz.com/index.php?s=43&it

  • 2. tim  |  May 21, 2011 at 1:42 am

    This tactic has proven not to work time and time again. Are you really that naive? What does this even remotely have to do with Prop 8?

  • 3. Adam Bink  |  May 21, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Tim, first, I think you may not be familiar with the history of corporate media campaigns. Please read here and here.

    Second, as grod and DaveP aptly wrote in Monday's thread, these campaigns are important to making it clear that anti-gay media drives anti-gay attitudes, and advertisers are a part of that.

    Third, as has been abundantly clear in both the About section of the site and in the content and comments left by others, this site is about action to achieve LGBT equality in all aspects — from repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" to combating anti-gay media. If you're not interested in the campaign, you are certainly free not to participate in it or read the posts on it.

  • 4. Nyx  |  May 21, 2011 at 4:41 am

    Hmm… Who is the real target of this action? Is it Orbitz, or is it really meant to be a cautionary tale for potential future new advertisers on Fox?

  • 5. Felyx  |  May 21, 2011 at 4:54 am

    I am interested in what the outcome would be if Fox were lobbied to drop Orbitz due to their 'pro-gay' equality stance.

    (Of course the desired outcome of reduced income for Fox would occur either way.)

  • 6. Nicole  |  May 21, 2011 at 6:40 am

    @Adam Bink

    "If you’re not interested in the campaign, you are certainly free not to participate in it or read the posts on it."

    That's unfair. While it's a bit crude the way that he put it, ultimately I see where he's coming from. There are a lot of advertisers on fox. Singling out Orbitz may do more harm than good to the way others may perceive our side, if for no other reason than it may contribute to the rhetoric that we're out to force communities and businesses to agree with a particular philosophy.

    It's not even like Orbitz is exclusively advertising on fox, or has an expressed anti-gay agenda. Our enemies are our enemies, not people who happen to not be our best friends. I don't agree that this is the best thing that we can be doing, and I especially don't think it's fair to point me or anyone to the door just because of that fact.

  • 7. Sydney  |  May 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

    @Nicole

    Well said. I couldn't agree more. I think campaigns like this one come across as childish and ultimately give our real enemies evidence and rhetoric to throw back in our face.

  • 8. Linda  |  May 21, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I'm also not convinced this is a wise way to handle this situation. Orbitz is definitely not our enemy; but we may make them one simply by this very public attack.

  • 9. DaveP  |  May 21, 2011 at 8:41 am

    Nicole, Syndey and Linda,

    Orbitz absolutely should be targeted. You may not be aware of exactly what is meant by the comments in these articles about how Orbitz 'supports the LGBT community'. Have you seen their gay-themed ads in various gay newspapers and magazines? Have you seen their gay-themed TV commercials on the LOGO channel on cable TV? Orbitz goes to great lengths to specifically advertise to our community with ads that are clearly aimed directly at LGBT customers. They actively seek our business, not just as part of the general population, but as a specific target market.

    They ask for our money, and when we give it to them, they take some of that money and GIVE IT TO FOX which pays for lots of extremely hateful anti-gay propaganda. This is very different from us singling out just any random company that advertises on FOX. Orbitz is using OUR money to hurt US and we are asking them to stop it.

  • 10. Adam Bink  |  May 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    @Nicole @Linda

    You can choose to support funding our enemies or not. Here's a question: If Orbitz were publishing ana anti-gay magazine, would it be a problem? Yes. How is this different? Because it's "advertising"? I'm not sure where people got the idea that corporations and law firms are free to do what they want, when they want, in the name of business. Fox influences millions of people.

    Further, I would be careful not to buy into Orbitz's spin. Orbitz keeps repeating how much they love the gays. Yet in fact, in the opening paragraph of the letter we emphasized how strong a friend Orbitz is to this community. That's not at issue here. What keeps being ducked is how they fund anti-gay media. Because it's through the normal business nature of advertising, it's presumed to be normal practice and they're entitled to do what they want, etc. etc. etc. Well, I'll tell you what: Orbitz is also entitled to hire, fire and promote who they want; ignore calls for sensitivity training on the subject of transgender employees; ignore calls to offer benefits for same-sex partners of employees. They didn't, and now they have high scores on HRC's Corporate Equality Index.

    This is a logical next step: asking that they not fund media that influences the views of millions of Americans. It's a simple, polite request. It's not like some random Fox anchor at one random point said "marriage is between a man and a woman". Read the original post Andy put up. There are dozens of examples of Fox anchors and guests putting out rabidly anti-gay, misinformed views.

    So what I wrote to Tim is clear: if you don't want to participate, feel free. It's a big internet, and there are a lot of posts on this blog, and you can read and participate in what you like. But I will ask one thing: click over to the Facebook link and read some of the thousands of posts of people telling Orbitz they will take their business elsewhere to get a sense of why people as so energized by this. Even friends must ask friends to do things, and Orbitz is a friend being asked a very respectful, polite request in a respectful letter that acknowledges their contributions. Orbitz is not immune from suggestions or criticism because of how much money they give, as DaveP notes.

  • 11. Chad  |  May 21, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I think that you people have it all backwards. Did any of you ever consider that the reason FOX News is so ultra conservative is because the companies that pay them money are ultra conservative? If more companies, like Orbitz is where their money is coming from, then FOX News would be crazy to risk offending them, and might even tone it down a little. I think that advertising dollars can have just as great an impact when given in greater quantity, too. The more of FOX News's profit share relies on those dollars, the more presure from their shareholders will pressure them to cater to those profits. It's one more way in which market forces can shape our politics. I would encourage more liberal leaning corporations to inverst even more into FOX News, and THEN start threatening to pull their funding until they change their ways. Money = power! This is the very reason why the United States is in a war with Iraq, and Afganistan, instead of Sadi Arabia, where most of the 911 hyjackers came from. We're owned by Sadi Arabia, and we need their money. It's also why we aren't in a war with China. They own us too! The liberal left needs to own FOX News, and then we can call the shots!

  • 12. David in Houston  |  May 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    I don't agree with this tactic. Orbitz should be able to advertise to the conservative base that watches the repugnant Fox News. It's not fair to ask them to disregard potential customers. What if the opposite were true, and millions of Fox viewers demanded that Orbitz stop promoting LGBT vacation packages on their website, or advertising in gay publications? It works both ways. I'm really getting concerned with these aggressive positions that "family values" organizations can use against us. "intolerant" and "bullying" are being used to describe the gay community. I don't think we need to give these organizations more ammunition.

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