Advertisers flee GB News in the UK, reek of hypocrisy as they head out the door

Liverpool, 9March2015, Photo: Anthony Moretti

I’ve been following on Twitter a robust conversation thread taking place in the United Kingdom, where more than a few people are calling out multiple advertisers for their hypocrisy.

And they’re right.

As you might know, GB News launched on Sunday. The well-known British journalist Andrew Neil is chairman of the network, which calls itself “Britain’s News Channel.”

Neil has said GB News will “champion robust, balanced debate and a range of perspectives on the issues that affect everyone in the UK, not just those living in the London area.”

Identified (and I’ll let you argue whether the characterization is fair) as a right-wing network, GB News starts as a mix of news and talk shows. To borrow a cliche, only time will tell into what it ultimately evolves; however, if it succeeds in putting a dent in the dominant position the BBC and Sky News hold, it will have a long shelf life.

With that (perhaps overly simplified) introduction, I now turn to my point: Multiple advertisers, with IKEA among the most prominent name brands, that initially signed on to GB News have pulled their advertising. And they’re doing so in the most hypocritical of styles.

In a tweet, IKEA defending its position, stating it “was too soon to make an informed decision” as to whether advertising on GB News was “in line with our advertising policy and brand guidelines.”

As the Brits might say: “Bollocks!”

Plain and simple, IKEA officials (as did those from the other advertisers that fled GB News) knew what GB News stood for and opted to align with the network. But the intensity of the blow back — anticipated or not is irrelevant — led to an abrupt change of course that can only be described as pitiful.

No reputable company — and especially those with the international reach of IKEA — fails to do its research before making its advertising decisions. For anyone within IKEA to suggest “an informed decision” couldn’t be made about GB News in the days and weeks before it went on the air is nonsensical.

For comparison sake, imagine I told you the lake in which you wanted to swim was infested with slimy goo that was certain to cause you skin irritation or something worse. (And, no, no one should use this example to suggest I’m hinting that GB News is “some slimy goo.”) You choose to jump in anyway, only to find yourself scampering out of the water within minutes as the first signs of rash already form. You then look at me and suggest you hadn’t made “an informed decision” and are regretting what’s happening to you.

Ignorance might be bliss, but in this case you were warned and you chose to leap in anyway.

And that brings me back to IKEA and the other advertisers now fleeing GB News.

IKEA and any other advertiser claiming it lacked sufficient information to know what GB News’ philosophy was is simply lying. A decision was made to advertise on the network, and it was met by a loud and angry response. Those advertising officials heard the howls of protest and abandoned GB News. They then tried to plead ignorance.

Baloney.

The time to say “no” to GB News, if that’s the choice IKEA and others wanted to make, was before the network launched. But to do your homework and decide to go with GB News only to fail to be resolute in the face of public outcry is hypocrisy.

I post this blog having made “an informed decision” about my message.

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