First it was Ford then Halifax now just about every major brand to use the News of the World, still the UK’s biggest-selling paper of any description, seems to be reviewing its advertising in the paper.
The NoW is estimated to take about £50m in ad revenue a year.
Most worrying, among the latest batch, is supermarket giant Sainsbury’s. If the big retailers pull their ads then the NoW really will start to suffer. It won’t have any money to hire private investigators and pay off the police for a start.
And there’s the rub of course.
As the phone hacking scandal at the paper spreads from celebrities to murder victims like Milly Dowler, the relatives of people killed in the 7/7 London terrorist atrocity and other innocent people connected to crime victims, what little reputation the paper had left has now thoroughly evaporated.
No advertiser with a semblance of a brain would want to keep such company, at least while the police ‘investigation’ into the paper’s activities (and possibly their own) rumbles on.
The really interesting question is what effect the revelations will have on the NoW’s sales. It’s traditional for many middle class Brits to buy a copy of the NoW to liven up their Sunday reading of the posh papers.
That sector of the market will surely disappear this coming Sunday as will many of its core readers horrified to discover that the paper that (whatever else it has always done) prides itself on family values and protecting children has, in fact, been exploiting victims of crime for its own gain.
More heads will start to roll at the paper and maybe higher up the News International chain of command soon, including, surely, former editor and now CEO Rebekah Brooks.
But it’s all looking a bit late for that to make any difference.