Brands caught ‘unaware’ of GB News ads following online backlash

Advertisers on GB News have begun responding to online pressure for funding GB News, with one promising to boycott the new TV channel.

GB News presenters Mercy Murkowi and Colin Brazier.
GB News presenters Mercy Murkowi and Colin Brazier.

Several brands that have been called out as part of a Stop Funding Hate campaign have claimed they were not aware they had placed spots on new TV channel GB News.

One brand, Kopparberg cider, has already promised to suspend further ads from appearing on the news channel.

Grolsch and Nivea have also said they will boycott the channel after being made aware their ads had appeared on GB News.

Others, including LV= and OVO Energy have claimed they were unaware their ads had appeared on GB News as they buy advertising across a network rather than specific channels. They said they would follow up with the media buyers, but did not commit to a boycott. Advertising sales for the channel are being handled by Sky Media.

Stop Funding Hate has ramped up an online campaign to shame brands to stop placing advertising on GB News.

It released a list of advertisers whose spots have appeared on GB News in its first few days on air.

These include: Kellogg’s, Virgin Media, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Octopus Energy, Ikea, Deliveroo, Starbucks, Co-op and Facebook. They are already being targeted by Twitter users who disagree with GB News’ perceived right-wing agenda.

There has been a mixed reaction on social media to brands responding to the Stop Funding Hate campaign, with some pressing brands to take action and others suggesting they would boycott brands who boycotted the GB News, which has promised an ‘anti-woke’ agenda and would represent parts of Britain not “ingrained by the mainstream media elite”.

W Communications director of media and entertainment David Frossman-Miller told PRWeek some brands should view GB News as an opportunity rather than a brand safety threat.

“Is actively taking a stance against GB News not an affront to its viewers; are we really saying their time, attention – and money – is unworthy?,” he said

“If the point of a campaign is to reach as many people as possible with ‘wall-to-wall’ coverage, why would you actively avoid such a large chunk of people.”

Frossman-Miller believes the morality of brands taking a stand against GB News is “mixed up”.

“Most clients would love to be in The Times, but many frown upon The Sun, despite it being owned and overseen by the same group of people. Is it not proving Andrew Neil’s point that most of the London-based marketers are out of step with society outside the M25?”

Frossman-Miller’s optimism isn’t shared by other PR professionals, which raised concerns about the channel’s longevity following its opening night.

Steve Hawkes, head of strategic media, BCW London, warned that to be successful, GB News should avoid being pigeonholed as "‘Gammon’ for the 60-year-old from Kent".

Note: This piece was updated after it was initially published with news of Nivea and Grolsch.

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