Blog: Petah MarianIs removing ads from the News of The World enough?

Petah Marian | 7 July 2011

Retailers have begun to bend on consumer pressure to stop advertising in the tabloid News of the World following allegations of widespread phone hacking. But is removing ads from the publication enough?

There are now calls from consumers on social media channels for retailers to stop selling NotW entirely.

In a series of shocking allegations, a private investigator working for The News of the World allegedly 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.
Since these allegations, it has emerged that the paper might have hacked mobile phones of UK soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the families of victims in the 7/7 bombings and other people involved in high profile events.

Following The Co-operative Group's decision yesterday, Sainsbury's said today that it had suspended its advertising in the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation.

"Due to the rising concerns of our customers we are suspending any advertising in the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation," said a Sainsbury's spokesperson.

Asda said that it had no plans to advertise in the News of the World, and that contrary to some reports, it's a not a big spender with that paper or any other Sunday paper. "In this calendar year we have spent around GBP34,000 on ads in the News of The World," Asda said in a statement.
Tesco has continued to face criticism over its decision to wait until investigations into the tabloid are concluded. Within two hours of posting a statement to this effect on its Facebook page, the retailer had received nearly 100 comments, after its post on the situation yesterday received some 238.

"The focus must be on the police investigation and on the public inquiries being considered urgently by the government. We must all support them and allow them to do their work so that all necessary and appropriate action is taken in the light of their findings, all lessons are learned for the future and public confidence is restored," said Tesco on its Facebook page.

As retailers ride the wave of public sentiment and begin to suspend advertising with the tabloid, there have been further calls today for them to stop stocking the paper entirely.

With reports that revenue from paper sales is three times more than ad sales, there have been calls from some corners for retailers to delist the paper.

Indeed, one Budgens operator has said that it plans to stop stocking the News of The World. The owner of two stores in North London said in a blog post today that the paper's actions actions have affected people in our community and "there must be consequences for the complete lack of morality that seems to be part of the paper's culture".

I became involved in a bit of a debate on Twitter today with a number of industry watchers over whether the retailers should stop stocking News of The World.

Delisting the newspaper would be a mistake. It's important to give consumers the opportunity to let the company know how they feel about its practices by not purchasing.

Also, delisting gives the NotW a headstart on calculating its losses. If orders remain static, the paper prints the same number of copies, and if the outrage on Twitter and Facebook is truly representative of the opinions of the Great British Public, nobody will buy it and News International will be even harder hit by return fees.

Steve Dresser, who runs the UK-retailers blog suggested that retailers won't cut the paper for competitive reasons."What they will worry about is losing customers to somewhere that does stock it," he said.

Meanwhile, Cliona Lynch said that if "unethical practices are proven, how can they stand over stocking it?" and that "where the retailer holds as much power as in this case, they should act responsibly and in-line with consumer sentiment".

With more revelations expected in the coming days, consumer pressure is unlikely to die down.

UPDATE: Brand Republic has just announced that the News of the World will not run any ads in this Sunday's issue.

UPDATE 2: It has now emerged that Sunday's issue will be the last issue of the News of The World.


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