Lego Stops Funding Hate


Lego recently announced it would be severing its advertising ties with the Daily Mail following a mounting campaign from pressure group Stop Funding Hate. The campaign gathered momentum following the paper’s front page on the three judges of the Supreme Court that made the ruling that Brexit would require Parliamentary vote. But this follows what the campaign group see as unnecessarily hateful and antagonistic coverage of immigrants and refugees from three newspapers in particular – Daily Mail, The Sun and Express.


The campaign has grown organically online since August with, at the time of writing, 194,626 people liking the Facebook page and 7.2M views of their ‘This is not a Christmas Ad’ video that calls for all advertisers, including John Lewis M&S, to consider that the goodwill to all that they promote in their Christmas ads is spread throughout the year and that this ethos will lead to them pulling their advertising in these newspapers.


2016’s been an extraordinary year and perhaps this is why it’s resonated with a lot of people. It does seem that the tabloids are purposefully antagonistic to sell papers. And it could be said that they have gone beyond offering a right-wing opinion.  But they do sell, so one can only assume that they do represent the voice of some members of society. So, it begs the question, where is the line between trying to promote a more tolerant society and press censorship? And who gets to draw that line and enforce it? Who decides when the editorial tone is deemed as acceptable?


It should be the duty of the press to ensure they are writing factual and anti-inflammatory news to give people a balanced and considered view and one that isn’t steeped in angry rhetoric.  But is it really the duty of corporations to decide when this is not the case and bring them in to line? Brendon O’Neill in the Spectator describes it as ‘A marshalling of capitalist power to punish newspapers and force them to change.’


So far Lego has been the only brand to pull its advertising and promotions from the paper. Clearly the brand does not see itself as being aligned with the opinions and tone of the newspaper. John Lewis responded to the campaign. A spokesman said: “We fully appreciate the strength of feeling on this issue but we never make an editorial judgement on a particular newspaper.” (PR Week) Gary Linekar who promotes Walker’s Crisps has also waded in to the debate urging them to pull their advertising in The Sun. This stance is likely motivated by his recent experience with the newspaper. But Walkers have said that “Our advertising approach is not determined by the editorial stances of individual newspapers.” (PR Week).  And most other brands are following suit with this kind of response, only Co-op is also calling its advertising ties in to question.


A big question brands will be asking themselves –  is it worth standing out from the crowd  to demonstrate their principals at the cost of cutting out reaching a segment of their target market? I suspect not.