News Of the World – Hacking and Boycott

Without getting into the political debate of the News of the Worlds (NoW) latest lesson in distasteful journalism – “hacking” the phone message of an abducted minor, outside the public reaction is how this will impact on the paper from an advertising point of view.

On the circulation front the buying public are fairly adept at letting the commercial wing of any newspaper group know that that have ‘erred’. You only have to look at Liverpool where there is still a large boycott of The Sun, 22 years after the Hillsbrough disaster.

LiverpoolvSunderland091The NoW total circulation* stands at, as of May 2011, 2,676,684 copies, making it the second largest newspaper after its stalemate The Sun (2,826,684). But that figure is back 8% on the previous May and if the sentiment yesterday and today continues I can see the figure for July being severely dented.    

The campaign to pressurise advertisers using the NoW gained pace yesterday. Ford Motor Company was the first to break rank and pull its advertising for the paper. Other large advertisers have come under serious pressure to do likewise.This morning, via twitter, the email addresses of the Chief Executives of the papers advertisers were listed and people encouraged to email them with their opinion of the publication no doubt. (You can see the page here)

Lately Mitsibushi, The Co-operative Group, Vauxhall, Lloyds Banking Group and Virgin Holidays have also withdrawn from Sundays edition.  

But pulling the plug on a paper with 2.6m circulation it’s a big ask for advertisers. The question is will the expected backlash against advertisers not withdrawing from the forthcoming Sunday edition be worth the 2.6m reach.  We’ll see on Monday when the way the paper handles the story (tearful apology and finger pointing at ex-bosses?) is digested.

Closer to home, will the “Irish” Edition take any flack? Will any advertisers jettison the full pages this Sunday? I assume that any brand pulling from the UK edition will be obliged to do the same here.

Sales of the paper in the Republic have been in decline for nearly a year and this negative publicity is certainly not going to help matters. 113,463 was their last audited figure here in May 2011. Knock 10k off that for the newly disgruntled Mass goers (which is not inconceivable) and your teetering on the psychological brink of 100k copies.

Addition: The NoW top ten advertisers (as we write) have not pulled out of Sundays edition, but many are ‘monitoring’ and ‘watching the situation’. The table below shows their adspend in the NoW in the UK and whether or not they have a presence in the Irish Republic

Advertiser £ Spend Interest In RoI 
British Sky Broadcasting 2,098,570 P
Everything Everywhere 1,371,000 O
Procter & Gamble 1,241,359 P
O2 1,084,189 P
Tesco 1,040,402 P
Hutchison 3g 1,012,885 P
Boots The Chemists 809,351 P
Asda Stores 726,988 O
Shop Direct Shopping 664,861 O
Vodafone 660,434 P

Data above from Mediaweek

Updated again: 

Bulmers were the first here ouf of the blocks when the seemingly decided to pull it advertising for the Irish Edition

Alid have now withdrawn for The Irish edition: 

We are reviewing our advertising in the Irish edition and are not planning any future adverts in this newspaper pending the outcomes of the external investigations.”
“Aldi has not advertised in the UK edition of the News of the World since 2010 and has no plans to advertise in the newspaper.

However, regarding the pulling of advertising, a Supermarket Exec in the UK added :

There is only one News of the World. No other paper reaches such a wide and big audience. I’d be very surprised if all these companies that have pulled advertising aren’t running ads in two months’ time

Aer Lingus also stated that the had no intention of including NoW in an upcoming campaign; begs the question really: where they ever included in the campaign?