Blog: Petah MarianIndustry responds to News of the World boycott pressure

Petah Marian | 6 July 2011

Supermarkets and food manufacturers are responding to pressure to pull advertising from UK tabloid News of the World after it was alleged that an investigator working for the newspaper hacked into the mobile phone of missing 13-year old Milly Dowler.

It has also been alleged that a private investigator deleted messages from Dowler's voicemail, giving her parents false hope that she might still be alive.

An online campaign, largely run across social media sites Twitter and Facebook, has encouraged consumers to contact the NotW's advertisers and demand they drop the adverts.

Following pressure from consumers, The Co-operative Group announced today that it would temporarily suspend any further advertising with the tabloid until the outcome of the investigation is known.

"The group is a consumer-owned business which adheres to strong ethical standards. These allegations have been met with revulsion by the vast majority of members who have contacted us," said The Co-op.

While the Co-op has been congratulated for acting quickly, Tesco has faced criticism on its Facebook page after the company said that it would wait until the outcome of police investigations before making a decision on its advertising.

"These latest allegations will cause huge distress to a family which has suffered enough. It's now a matter for the police; like everyone, we await the outcome of their investigation," the retailer said.

In response, one consumer said: "Would it be too much to ask Tesco to withdraw their advertising from the News of the World for one week - this coming Sunday - to show the company's disapproval?

"Unwittingly, the money Tesco spends with the NotW has helped part-fund payments for this phone hacking. (I stress unwittingly). I'm guessing that the company does not approve of the hacking of a 13 year-old girl's voicemail. How about it showing that disapproval this Sunday?"

Sainsbury's and Morrisons are also set to wait until the results of the investigation become known.

A Sainsbury's spokesperson said: "We advertise in hundreds of newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations. The views and practices of any organisations that carry our advertising do not represent those of Sainsbury's. That said, it would be prudent to await the outcome of the investigation."

While Morrisons confirmed that does not have any ads running in this week's edition of the paper, a company spokesperson told just-food that it "clearly understands that the allegations are very serious" and that it is "watching the situation". He said that Morrisons wouldn't make any long-term decisions about its advertising with the paper until the "full facts are known".



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