Disney, with its well-polished family image, is no stranger to playing it safe on both sides of the aisle. But after drawing Republican ire earlier this year over LGBTQ issues in Florida, the company is once again in the political crosshairs and now it’s the Democrats’ turn to get angry.
This time, Disney is in the hot seat over Hulu and its “unwritten” advertising policies. Hulu, one of the few paid streaming services currently showing ads, is blocking ads that cover some of the party’s main issues.
Over the past two weekends, several media outlets have reported that campaign ads for Democratic candidates have been turned down by Hulu due to what the service deems “sensitive content” about climate change, guns and abortion rights. Disney is the majority owner of Hulu and has full control of the service.
According to The Washington PostOn July 15, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Governors Association attempted to purchase abortion and gun ads on Hulu along with other Disney-owned properties such as the ESPN sports network. and local ABC affiliates. On the edge reports that Democratic groups also ran the same ads on Facebook, YouTube and Roku. Hulu was the only platform that didn’t run the ads.
After trying to contact Hulu and having multiple calls dropped, Democrat groups finally received an email from the streamer saying the ads would be accepted….”
“Hulu’s censorship of the truth is outrageous, offensive and yet another step on a dangerous path for our country” said the three Democratic groups in a joint statement. “Voters have a right to know the facts about MAGA’s Republican agenda on issues like abortion – and Hulu is doing the American people a huge disservice by preventing voters from knowing the truth about the GOP’s record or denying these issues to be discussed. ”
Prior to that, a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York, Suraj Patel, shared his frustrations with trying to run ads on Hulu with the website Jezebel. according to one Letter that Patel sent to Hulu, as well as Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Hulu called its campaign June 30 to say that there was an “unwritten policy from Hulu” regarding “sensitive” topics contained in its ads. These topics included mentioning climate change and showing footage of violent pro-Trump riots on January 6 at the US Capitol building.
According to Patel, his ads finally ran when his campaign swapped the words “climate change” for “democracy.” The campaign also had to remove the January 6 footage from the ad. Patel’s campaign has yet to receive a response from the company in response to his letter.
These rules are especially harmful to Democratic politicians. Millennials and Generation Z love streaming services like Netflix, HBO Max, and Hulu, and are among the largest customer base on these platforms. These age groups also form the backbone of the Democratic Party, which, again, makes these platforms prime targets for paid political ad campaigns.
As mentioned earlier, Hulu is currently one of the only major streaming service platforms to display ads on its shows. However, ad-supported streaming is on the rise. Netflix previously announced a cheaper subscription plan that would include ads, although the company did not specify any details about policies regarding ad content.
As The Washington Post Highlights, ads are coming to another Disney-owned platform: Disney+, but the company has already stated that it would not allow political advertising on that service.
Disney takes full control of Hulu in deal with Comcast
In March of this year, Disney was thrust into another political struggle it was clearly trying to avoid. After Florida Republicans passed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, a bill that bars schools from discussing sexual orientation and gender identity, Disney officials pressured the company to take a public stance on the issue. CEO Chapek, after initially saying Disney would not get involved, caved in to public and internal pressure and publicly condemned the project. As a result, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis hit back at Disney removing the company’s special tax status in Orlando. Disney, in response, has since paused plans to move 2,000 high-paying jobs from California to Florida, as it had initially planned.
Disney and its ad policies may be designed to keep the company out of political discourse, but in 2022 — amid Republican attacks on the LGBTQ community, equality, gun control, women’s rights and the environment — that proved pretty impossible. .