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Latest boycott of ‘La Comay’ could be costly for WAPA TV

Antulio “Kobo” Santarrosa alter-ego, “La Comay,” and sidekick Héctor Travieso during a recent airing of Puerto Rico’s top-rated television show, “SuperXclusivo.” (Credit: WapaTV.com)

Editor’s Note: In the hours since this story published, Lanco Paints, Vanilla Gift Card and Dish Networks announced their decisions to drop “SuperXclusivo” from their media plans, cancelling ads on the show.

The backlash generated in response to recent comments made by puppeteer Antulio “Kobo” Santarrosa through his television show “SuperXclusivo” and female alter-ego “La Comay” about a gruesome murder that took place over the weekend could take a significant bite out of WAPA TV’s (Ch. 4) advertising revenue, as a handful of its major corporate sponsors pulled their ads from the prime-time slot Wednesday.

According to the local station’s most recent and current advertising rate card, a 30-second spot during “SuperXclusivo’s” 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. time slot costs about $6,000 from Monday through Friday. To that, WAPA adds another $7,500 or so for product placements during the show, which could average between two and three per episode.

So, theoretically, if the station lost all of the ads scheduled to air on prime-time — Wapa’s most expensive hour — the station could be looking at a loss of close to $1.3 million a week, including some $75,000 in on-air product placements.

That is a rough estimate based on the number of ads that could be placed during the 18 to 20 minutes allotted for commercial activity during the show, plus the product placements, of which there were none Wednesday. In all, 42 30-second spots aired, 10 of which were house ads.

That list of advertisers that upheld their support of the show included: AlphaOne Security Solutions, Palo Viejo, Xtreme Hair Gel, Dish Puerto Rico (two ads), Joyerías Borroto, Cre-c hair growth product, Le’dermis skin solutions, Oro Centro in Mayagüez, Ashley Furniture, Disney Live, Expo Manualidades, La Feria, Lenel Restaurant in Arecibo, Vanilla Gift Card, two concert announcements, Lanco Paints, FirstPlus, Batteries Plus, Aquafresh (GlaxoSmithKline) and Casas Mi Estilo

Others dropped program like hot potato
However, noticeably absent from the lineup were major companies that started dropping the program like a hot potato less than 24 hours after the “Boicot La Comay” Facebook page was created in response to comments the TV personality made during Tuesday night’s show in reference to the murder of 32-year-old former advertising executive José Enrique Gómez-Saladin, who was allegedly kidnapped, burned and beaten to death early Friday after allegedly being forced to withdraw $400 from his bank account.

In his assessment of the incident, the gossip show’s creator questioned what the victim was doing cruising a seedy Caguas street and why he had allegedly allowed his attackers to get in his car. Many who joined the Facebook page took exception to “La Comay’s” comments, which they said implied he had provoked his own death.

Indignant, the group clamored for the cancellation of the island’s top-rated show, saying it promotes a “culture of hate and lack of solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico,” and pressed advertisers to no longer sponsor the gossip program. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday — when “La Comay” aired as usual — the page had more than 16,000 “Likes.” That number quickly soared to nearly 23,000 by 8 p.m.

Health insurer Triple-S announced early Wednesday its decision to stop advertising in the show’s prime time hour. (Credit: www.facebook.com/triple-s)

The first major advertiser to pull its ads was insurer Triple-S, which informed its decision through its Facebook page before noon Wednesday.

“Triple-S does not support expressions of any kind that promote discord and violence in our society. As a company that monitors the health and safety of our people, we will address this situation very responsibly. We thank all our fans in Facebook for their comments and desire to achieve a society free of violence,” Triple-S said in its first post.

“We want to inform you that Triple-S’s media plan does not provide for any additional ads in this program. We wish all our Facebook fans a beautiful day full of peace and peaceful coexistence,” the company said in a follow-up post.

One by one, the likes of telecommunications carrier Claro — which had two ads slip through — dairy products maker Borden and electronic transaction processing company Red ATH also announced their decisions to halt their sponsorship of the show through posts on their individual Facebook pages.

However, major advertiser Wal-Mart Puerto Rico kept its on-air presence during “La Comay” Wednesday. Meanwhile, AT&T — which has regular product placements in the show — did not push any products on-air, but also refrained from clearing up its advertising status during “La Comay.”

“AT&T directs advertising to programming that we believe our customer base views,” the company said in a brief statement. “We continually monitor the content of programming in order to gauge its impact on customer buying decisions as well as to determine if the programming is appropriate. We are currently looking into the program in question.”

As of the end of the show, Wal-Mart had yet to issue a statement regarding its stance on advertising during the popular show.

The station, “La Comay” speak
Early Wednesday afternoon, WAPA TV President José Ramos issued a statement regarding “La Comay’s” comments, saying the information had been taken out of context.

A Facebook page called “Boicot a La Comay” launched Tuesday had garnered more than 23,000 by 8 p.m. Wednesday from people calling for the end of the long-running gossip show. (Credit: www.facebook.com/boicotlacomay)

“WAPA is a company that respects life, dignity and rights of human beings. We don’t support any action that threatens any of these values,” he said. “We regret that information provided through our programming has been taken out of context or misinterpreted. Our intention is not and never will be to offend our viewers, who are our reason for being, but to help get justice.”

“There is no justification for committing a criminal act of any kind and those who commit it should pay for it. We join the grief felt by José Enrique’s family and all victims of violence in Puerto Rico,” he concluded.

About halfway through Wednesday’s show, “La Comay” addressed the controversy, saying she had not said anything that had not been published by any of the traditional media outlets as part of their ongoing coverage of the crime.

“I’m known for my sincerity and I’m not afraid of anyone or anything. We’re saddened over what has happened to Gómez-Saladín,” said the doll, which for years has been Puerto Rico’s go-to source for gossip and information. “We’ve covered many crimes and murders and we’ve sought the truth, even if it hurts.”

During the show, the doll said she would lobby for the death penalty for the four people accused of the murder and other related crimes.

“What we do here is expose the truth. We didn’t say anything here yesterday [Tuesday] that hadn’t been said by the different media outlets,” the puppet said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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