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Image: "Skins" cast
MTV
MTV's racy new teen drama stars underage actors in adult situations.
TODAY news services
updated 1/23/2011 4:24:22 PM ET 2011-01-23T21:24:22

The weekend brought more bad news for the racy new MTV show "Skins." After the Parents Television Council urged a boycott and a federal investigation into the series for possible violations of child pornography laws, advertisers are following in the footsteps of Taco Bell and are pulling their ads from the show.

"Skins," an American remake of a popular British drama, stars underage actors as teens who explore sex and drugs in their formative years. The program is rated "mature" and airs at 10 p.m.

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Story: Why didn't MTV just use the British version of 'Skins'?

Taco Bell was the first to flee on Thursday. "We advertise on a variety of MTV programs that reach our core demographic of 18- to 34-year-olds, which included the premiere episode of 'Skins,' " spokesperson Rob Poetsch told TODAY in a statement. "Upon further review, we’ve decided that the show is not a fit for our brand and have moved our advertising to other MTV programming,"

Then late on Friday, General Motors and Wrigley followed suit. Ads for the auto giant's Chevy Volt aired during the show's premiere Monday, but the company told the PTC that "Skins" was on their "do not buy" list, reports Deadline.com. GM said that the ads were mistakenly aired.

Wrigley aired commercials for Orbit and Extra gum on the premiere. “Wrigley has decided to suspend any advertising during MTV’s ‘Skins’ as it is never our intent to endorse content that could offend our consumers,” a rep told Access Hollywood on Friday evening. “Any ads that previously aired during the show were part of a broader advertising plan with the network.”

Story: Uproar over 'Skins' is a blessing for the show

H&R Block delivered a big blow on Saturday. The tax preparation company, one of "Skins' " biggest advertisers, according to The New York Daily News, also decided to yank its ads.

"H&R Block is not an advertiser of the show," the company said in a statement. "One ad ran by mistake as part of a rotation. Once we learned this, we immediately took steps to ensure it didn't happen again. This program is not brand right and H&R Block did not select it to be part of our rotation."

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In a press release, PTC president Tim Winter said that the group had already contacted Subway to ask the sandwich company "to defend sponsoring the baseless content on 'Skins' that is being marketed directly to children."

Does 'Skins' violate child porn laws?

But the loss of advertisers may not stop here for the racy teen drama. The PTC said in a statement on Saturday that it will urge more companies to remove their ads from "Skins," including Schick Hydro, L'Oreal and Foot Locker.

Access Hollywood, Deadline.com and The New York Daily News contributed to this report.

Video: Another company pulls ad from 'Skins'

  1. Closed captioning of: Another company pulls ad from 'Skins'

    >>> another company has pulled its ads from the controversial, new mtv show "skins." h&r block told tmz.com its ads will no longer run during "skins," joining gm, taco bell and wrigley, who have also jumped ship. the show features teenage actors as young as 15 and depicts them doing drugs and having sex . a spokesman from "skins" tells mtv news "we're confident that the episodes not only comply with all applicable legal requirements but also with our responsibilities to our viewers." all right, we'll let you take a look. here we go.

    >> going to do it with michelle?

    >> so, we're going to do a lot of drugs. better buy an ounce, then.

    >> minimum.

    >> hold on. i have to buy an ounce of bud?

    >> sure, there's a guy downtown.

    >> steve adubato is a media analyst and authors of "what were they thinking" and the soon to be released "you are the brand." good morning.

    >> good morning, alex .

    >> you have to know, the season premiere , over 3 million, close to 3 1/2 million viewers, okay? there's a lot of controversy surrounding the show. how much do you think that is helping to generate viewers and what's that doing with the audience with the advertisers?

    >> you know, this is a fascinating question, alex , because on the one hand, what it's going to answer is how far can you go, particularly when you're talking about teenagers, okay?

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> and here's the problem right now -- you've got ratings that are through the roof, but you've got advertisers that are jumping out the door.

    >> right.

    >> and if you've got -- look at this, you've got taco bell , gm, you've got a whole bunch of others, but now foot locker and subway. if they go, it's over. i don't care if they have 5 million viewers.

    >> yeah.

    >> it's a question of ratings versus reputation.

    >> you know what, take this new microphone. just hold it. there we go. we're trying to fix it. is that better? all right. so, on the other hand, how much life can a program have if an audience is there but the major advertisers pull out? i mean, you're saying it's over, but can the audience do things like petition and say, hey, you know, we want this show? and then do you find advertisers that will say, all right, we know people are going to be watching, so we're going to put it on there?

    >> here's the problem -- if an advertiser feels that the show and being tied to the show is destroying its brand -- listen, i kept thinking the word that -- when i was researching on this book "you are the brand," i looked at mtv . and i'll tell you one thing that comes up over and over again -- child porn . i'm not accusing of them, but if the word child porn or in some way being connected to child porn , because the actors are so young -- if your brand is connected with the words child porn , it is over. i don't care who you are or what your ratings are. they can't survive that.

    >> okay. i'm curious how those who call this a dangerous show for children, how they're getting that. and this comes from the parents television council . the show, the most dangerous television show for children we have ever seen.

    >> ever.

    >> ever. how is it dangerous?

    >> i'll tell you what, my wife and i -- and we don't think we're prudes about these things, but we are parents of four kids, right? one of them's 18 in college, but the other one is a little baby girl , olivia. and i'm sitting there going, wait a minute -- and two in between them -- and saying time-out. this is out of control.

    >> yeah.

    >> this is crazy.

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> this is the worst thing i've ever seen. and again, you could look at " jersey shore ," you could look at other shows, but they are not kids. they are not 15-year-old actors in here.

    >> that's the point.

    >> that's the key, alex . and you can appreciate this, too.

    >> i absolutely can, because you have kids playing these roles. not adults that look younger --

    >> 15, 16, 17. that's it!

    >> their peers, kids out there saying that girl's my age and look what she's doing on tv or look what he's doing on tv.

    >> that's it. the line is, kids moving. in the cable world, it's out of control in terms of looking for ratings, but when you start using kids that are 15, 16, 17, involved in -- listen, that organization looked at this. there were 42 instances in the first couple of episodes of drugs, alcohol, and obviously, teen sex . and if you've got kids, teen actors involved in those activities -- again, simulated, if you will -- it sends all the wrong messages. and i'll tell you what, it's parents who give the kids the money to go to foot locker or buy l'oreal products or go to subway.

    >> right.

    >> and if the parents revolt on this, it's over. sure, can the kids find the tv? yes. can they get the money to buy the products? highly questionable. when an advertiser's brand believes they are being destroyed by being affiliated with a show, no matter what the ratings are, it is over. mtv is admitting it. they know they have a problem.

    >> yeah. people who are watching this are going to say, look, the kids don't have to watch this show and parents can suggest their kids don't watch it but it should be out there and available for those who want to.

    >> look, all true, and believe us, those who are parents, we're always looking. i have an 8-year-old who's poking around with our 18-year-old and i've seen them on mtv a couple times and i have to look at what he's doing, but you can't monitor it all the time.

    >> right.

    >> and i'll tell you something, i was blown away by what i saw here. and i'm telling you, you've got a situation that -- mtv knows -- when they say, by the way, the bbc is airing it. well, i don't know the uk. i believe that their attitudes about this issue may be very different than ours, and i'll tell you what, that's not the brand that you want to say it works there, it's going to work here. they're in big trouble , and i believe, my prediction, mtv 's going to pull back, edit the series dramatically. it will look nothing like what you see today. they need the advertising money. their reputation is on the line.

    >> interesting to see if that