MTV’s controversial drama “Skins” is losing advertisers faster than some of its characters lose their clothes.
As FOX411 reported, Taco Bell was the first sponsor to withdraw advertising from "Skins," quickly followed by Wrigley, Subway, Foot Locker, L’Oreal and Shick.
General Motors and H&R Block both issued statements explaining that their ads were aired during the premiere by mistake and would have no further association with the show.
Lacking a stable of advertisers to sponsor the show, “Skins” could reportedly lose MTV up to $2 million per episode.
With the swift decampment of sponsors, FOX411 has learned that the show could be taken off the air—for good. “‘Skins’ is definitely in danger of being cancelled, if the ratings aren't great,” an MTV insider tells FOX411. “And MTV is not going to risk losing advertisers over one show."
“Skins” lost about half its viewers for the show’s second episode, which aired Monday night. Only 1.6 million viewers tuned in, versus the 3.3 million who watched the premiere on January 17. (The premiere did benefit from the huge ratings of its ‘Jersey Shore’ lead in, which had almost nine million viewers—the biggest in the network’s history. The second episode of ‘Skins’ did not have such easy sledding, so some decrease in ratings was to be expected.)
Despite its advertiser and ratings woes, however, MTV insists the network is standing by the show. In a statement to FOX411, the network said: “Skins has earned the loyalty of fans across the globe for its thoughtful and honest portrayal of teen life today. An internationally acclaimed scripted drama, the show has been honored with a long list of prestigious awards. MTV stands by the US adaptation of Skins and the vision of its creator Bryan Elsley.”
But the loss of viewers and advertisers has apparently ruffled some feathers over at MTV’s Times Square headquarters, according to a source. “The 'Skins' marketing people were running around like mad (on Tuesday),” a second MTV insider tells FOX411. “There was definitely some kind of ‘all-hands-on-deck’ situation going on.”
Last Monday’s broadcast of the second episode of "Skins" featured an anemic commercial line-up, with spots for Red Bull and Zeno Hot Spot, a pimple-prevention device hawked by Whitney Port, being the only non-program or film related advertising.
“Certainly, blue chip advertisers that have brands that appeal beyond the really young, cutting-edge target audience are going to shy away from advertising on ‘Skins’,” Charlie Menduni, media director of Mediassociates, tells FOX411. “But with the initial outcry against it as loud as it is, you’d be hard pressed to find any brand manager who would be willing to bring that (show) to their board.”
Calling “Skins” the “most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children,” The Parents Television Council has waged war on MTV and its sponsors for the show’s “foul language, illegal drug use, illegal activity as well as thoroughly pervasive sexual content.”
On January 20, the PTC has even called on called on lawmakers and feds to open an investigation regarding child pornography and exploitation on MTV’s “Skins.”
“Bryan Elsley was highly skeptical about translating this for the American audience,” the MTV insider told FOX411. “He was worried it would get this kind of reaction. It took a lot of wooing and hand-holding from MTV network execs to convince him that it would work in the U.S.”