If Don Imus Returns, Will Advertisers Follow?

Radio shock jock Don Imus appears to be setting the stage for his return to the airwaves. Since losing his radio and television programs in April for making racially offensive remarks about the Rutgers University women's basketball team, he has attempted to mend fences with those he hurt and has settled his contract status with his former employer. Now, there is speculation that he will return to radio with a program either on WABC in New York or possibly on satellite radio.

What makes possibile an Imus return? Potential for advertising revenues, of course. Imus may be a polarizing figure, but he does attract an audience whose demographic characteristics are coveted by many advertisers. Major companies such as General Motors and Procter & Gamble were quick to sever ties with Imus when the racial remark controversy erupted. Would they consider a return? Reaching audiences in general is tougher than ever today, and the effectiveness of mass media advertising is under increased scrutiny as advertisers need to see measurable results from their ad buys.

Associating with a high profile personality like Don Imus is a way for companies to reach certain audiences using a mass media vehicle. It certainly is a niche market as Imus did not have mass appeal before his dismissal and may pull smaller audiences initially. Also, it would probably be an ideal time for advertisers to be associated with Imus as the "PC Police" would have him under a watchful eye, and it is likely that Imus and his sidekicks would be more careful about what they say to avoid another fiasco.