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“Our TV show”: Legitimacy, Public Relations and J. Edgar Hoover’s “The F.B.I.” on ABC-TV
Unformatted Document Text:  Cecil  —  “Our  TV  show”    —    17   program was subject to FBI vetting, with many prospective sponsors failing to measure up to Hoover’s standards. Prior to the airing of the first episode, ABC’s Moore asked that Hoover reconsider a ban on certain types of advertising allowed to run during broadcasts of “The F.B.I.” Hoover had ordered that no tobacco or alcohol be promoted during commercial breaks in “The F.B.I.” Specifically, Moore requested a lift of Hoover’s ban on tobacco advertising in the series, prompting the Director to complain that the Bureau was losing control of the project because of Quinn Martin’s “boorish insolence.” 69 Hoover ultimately relented on his objections to allowing the American Tobacco Company to advertise on the series, but his disdain for Martin, Warner Brothers and ABC television continued. “I withdraw our original objection to the American Tobacco Co.,” Hoover wrote at the bottom of a memorandum. “We have for all practical purposes lost control of this project due to Martin mowing us down so I can’t see any greater harm coming because of a sponsor who at least won’t try to dictate the details of production as Martin has done with complete disregard of our wishes & combined with a boorish insolence.” 70 For the most part, though, when it came to advertisers, Hoover and his successors got their way and the FBI brand was spared association with controversial products and companies. The first several years of the series were sponsored by the Aluminum Company of America and Ford Motor Company, with several other companies taking on a minority of the costs. Those sponsors were acceptable to Hoover. Sponsorships totaled $12 million in the first year. ALCOA paid $4 million in the first year, Ford Motor Company paid $6 million that year and Mutual of Omaha picked up the remaining $2 million. 71 Ford continued sponsoring the show to some extent throughout its run. Hoover even appeared in a Ford promotion, an 80-second clip of Hoover receiving Freedom Foundation award recognizing the contributions of “The F.B.I.” 72 ALCOA dropped away after the first season.

Authors: Cecil, Matthew.
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background image
Cecil  —  “Our  TV  show”    —    17  
program was subject to FBI vetting, with many prospective sponsors failing to measure up to 
Hoover’s standards.  
Prior to the airing of the first episode, ABC’s Moore asked that Hoover reconsider a ban 
on certain types of advertising allowed to run during broadcasts of “The F.B.I.” Hoover had 
ordered that no tobacco or alcohol be promoted during commercial breaks in “The F.B.I.” 
Specifically, Moore requested a lift of Hoover’s ban on tobacco advertising in the series, 
prompting the Director to complain that the Bureau was losing control of the project because of 
Quinn Martin’s “boorish insolence.”
69
 Hoover ultimately relented on his objections to allowing 
the American Tobacco Company to advertise on the series, but his disdain for Martin, Warner 
Brothers and ABC television continued. “I withdraw our original objection to the American 
Tobacco Co.,” Hoover wrote at the bottom of a memorandum. “We have for all practical 
purposes lost control of this project due to Martin mowing us down so I can’t see any greater 
harm coming because of a sponsor who at least won’t try to dictate the details of production as 
Martin has done with complete disregard of our wishes & combined with a boorish insolence.”
70
 
For the most part, though, when it came to advertisers, Hoover and his successors got 
their way and the FBI brand was spared association with controversial products and companies. 
The first several years of the series were sponsored by the Aluminum Company of America and 
Ford Motor Company, with several other companies taking on a minority of the costs. Those 
sponsors were acceptable to Hoover. Sponsorships totaled $12 million in the first year. ALCOA 
paid $4 million in the first year, Ford Motor Company paid $6 million that year and Mutual of 
Omaha picked up the remaining $2 million.
71
 Ford continued sponsoring the show to some 
extent throughout its run. Hoover even appeared in a Ford promotion, an 80-second clip of 
Hoover receiving Freedom Foundation award recognizing the contributions of “The F.B.I.”
72
 
ALCOA dropped away after the first season.  


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