Rolling Stone magazine has been heavily critiqued for emblazoning the face of 19-year-old Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on its cover, similar to how the publication has posed Jim Morrison and Madonna in the past.
While the magazine is standing behind its editorial decision, New England based CVS and Tedeschi Food Shops, and Walgreens are boycotting the issue.
Advertisers that paid for placement in the controversial issue were just as surprised as the general public to see Tsarnaev’s face on the cover.
A Coca-Cola spokesperson told Business Insider that Fuze iced tea, which had a full-page ad, “did not have any prior knowledge about content that would be in this issue when they bought media several months ago.”
The company declined to comment if it had a reaction to the cover or if this would influence future ad buys because “this is not related directly to our business.”
In fact, most of the big name advertisers — from McDonald’s to Bud Light — did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Personal lubricant Astroglide, however, did say it wished it had been informed that Tsarnaev would be on the cover so that it the option to decide if it wanted to keep its full page ad in the magazine. “If we could have pulled it, we would have,” an Astroglide representative told BI.
Astroglide — which has advertised in Rolling Stone on and off for years, depending on if the editorial staff allowed ads for lubricants in the publication — does not have immediate plans to advertise in the publication in 2014. But that is due to ad performance rather than the current issue’s content.
Other advertisers were comfortable with Rolling Stone’s cover.
Online adult products and novelties shop Adam and Eve only bought a quarter page ad and told Business Insider that it would have kept that ad with prior knowledge of Tsarnaev’s cover appearance.
“Above all, Adam & Eve believes in freedom of speech,” a spokesperson told Business Insider. “The cover certainly got the attention of the media, but having only seen excerpts of the article, I don’t think it’s fair to make an assessment. In our experience, Rolling Stone has a proven track record for writing objective, thought provoking stories. I think it’s unfortunate that stores are boycotting Rolling Stone and we don’t have any plans to change our advertising program with them.”
Seventeen other advertisers appeared in the August 1 issue. They were: Dove Chocolate, M&M’s, Snickers, Gillette, TexasPete hot sauce, HP, McDonald’s, Camel cigarettes, Converse, Axe, Miracle Whip, A1 BBQ Sauce, Pringles, Full Sail University, Vapor Genie, Altoids, and Straight Talk Wireless.
Although none got back to Business Insider for comment, we will post updates with future comments.
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