Family TV watchdog ranks 'best' and 'worst' advertisers of the last 25 years

Walmart has pulled the the controversial anti-Trump 'Impeach 45' apparel from its website after an online backlash from Trump supporters.
Walmart has pulled the the controversial anti-Trump "Impeach 45" apparel from its website after an online backlash from Trump supporters. | Wikimedia Commons/Benchapple

A family media watchdog group that normally releases an annual list of the best and worst television advertisers has this year released a list of worst and best advertisers of the past quarter-century. 

In honor of its 25th anniversary, the Parents Television Council has released its list of the “Best and Worst TV Advertisers of Past 25 Years” Wednesday.

The list of best advertisers recognizes “those companies that have consistently and steadfastly demonstrated a corporate commitment to sponsoring TV programs that are generally safe for both adults and children to watch.”

On the other hand, those on the list of worst advertisers have “unfailingly sponsored programs containing volumes of sex, violence, and/or profanity.”

“Businesses demonstrate their corporate values not so much by their words, but by their deeds,” PTC President Tim Winter in a statement.

“This especially includes the TV programs they choose to sponsor. Not only does adopting and abiding by a strong media-buying standard improve the entertainment media landscape for children and families, there is immense financial benefit to the corporation for doing so.”

Walmart took the top spot on the list of best advertisers, followed by Coca-Cola and its brands, which include Dasani, Smart Water, Simply Orange and Minute Maid.

Procter & Gamble was recognized as the third-best advertiser of the past quarter-century. Procter & Gamble products include Always, Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Dawn, Downey, Febreze, Gain, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Oral-B, Pampers, Luvs, Pantene, Tide and Vicks.

General Mills came in fourth on the "best" list. Its products include Betty Crocker, Yoplait, Colombo, Totino’s, Pillsbury, Old El Paso, Haagen-Dazs, Cheerios, Trix, Cocoa Puffs and Lucky Charms. Ford, a prominent American auto manufacturer, rounded out the top-five.

Smuckers, the parent company of Jif, Crisco, Hungry Jack, Dunkin’ Donuts, Meow Mix and Milk-Bone, came in sixth on the "best" list, followed by TJX and its brands, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods.

Fast-food chain Wendy’s was rated the eighth-best television advertiser of the past 25 years while Clorox, the parent company of Brita’s, Burt’s Bees, Fresh Step, Scoop Away and Formula, is ranked ninth. Three advertisers tied for 10th on the list: Dairy Queen, Google and State Farm.

While the PTC identified Walmart as the best TV advertiser of the past 25 years, another major retailer, Target, was singled out as the worst TV advertiser of 25 years.

Coming in second place on the worst list was Yum, the parent company of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell.

According to PTC, Unilever, the parent company of Axe, Dove, Hellmann’s, Knorr, Lipton, Lux, Degree, Sunsilk and Surf, was the third-worst advertiser of the past 25 years.

Limited Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret, was rated the fourth-worst advertiser of the past quarter-century.

Automaker Toyota was listed as the fifth-worst TV advertiser of the past 25 years, while Sprint and T-Mobile, Kohl’s, AT&T, Subway and Burger King rounded out the list of the top-10 worst advertisers.

The findings of the PTC’s 25th anniversary lists closely mirror the results of the PTC’s list of the “Best & Worst TV Advertisers for 2019.” 

PTC, which advocates for family-friendly entertainment on television, movies and streaming platforms, normally ranks the best and worst advertisers by sector.

Ford, one of the top 10 Best advertisers of the past 25 years, was ranked the best advertiser in the “Cars” sector in 2019 while Toyota was listed as one of the worst advertisers in the ‘Cars” sector last year.

Dairy Queen and Wendy’s took the top spots in the “Fast Food” sector while Yum and Subway were singled out as the worst Fast Food advertisers.

Walmart and Target were listed as the best and worst discount retail advertisers in 2019, respectively. TJX was classified as one of the best department store advertisers in 2019 as Kohl’s was singled out as one of the worst in its sector.

Coca-Cola and Smuckers were listed as the best food and beverage advertisers of 2019. Verizon and State Farm were highlighted as the best TV advertisers in their respective sectors of telecommunications and insurance in 2019.

According to PTC's winter, many consumers choose to support brands that "put families first."

"As we enter the holiday shopping season, we call on families across the nation to return in kind that standard of care by purchasing goods and services from companies on our Best list, and by eschewing the products offered by those companies on our Worst list,” he added in his statement.

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