Rob Schneider has learned the hard way that there's no way to inoculate yourself against an Internet backlash.
State Farm Insurance has dropped an ad campaign featuring the "Deuce Bigalow" star in a reprisal of his "Richmeister" character -- a.k.a. the "making copies" guy -- from "Saturday Night Live." The decision stems not from an objection to rehashed humor from the mid-'90s, but to Schneider's outspoken stance against childhood vaccines.
Along with former "View" co-host Jenny McCarthy, Schneider, who has lately been busy trying to revive his career with a spec sitcom, has been one of the most vocal celebrity proponents of the thoroughly discredited theory linking immunizations to autism. In 2012, he campaigned against California Bill AB 2109, designed to make it harder for parents to receive vaccine exemptions for their children.
When it passed, he registered his unhappiness in rather inflammatory terms on Twitter. "Today California passed a law to force parents to get a Doc's permission to not vaccinate their kids or they can't attend school! Nazi's," he wrote.
Some viewers of the State Farm ads thought it ironic that a company that provides health insurance should hire a celebrity spokesperson who is opposed to a standard and effective public health measure, and made their objections known via social media. This week, a representative of State Farm confirmed to PR Week that the company was working to remove the commercials from rotation.
Schneider has not taken the news lightly, posting a quote on Twitter attributed to George Washington implying that he'd been denied his 1st Amendment rights and thanking his supporters "who believe as I do that parents should decide what's in the best interests of their child, not Gov't mandates."