Advertisers, including Ikea, Grolsch and Octopus Energy, have very publicly withdrawn from slots on GB News and said they had no idea they were advertising on the right wing news channel.
While Andrew Neil’s new TV venture isn’t comparable to hate speech videos on YouTube, the murky issue around media agencies and broadcasters making free with clients’ money is the same. Should marketers take more interest in where their budget is being spent? Should agencies take the initiative and be more transparent?
The whole transactional nature of the business has led to some very unhappy clients. Ikea’s statement said: “We have safeguards in place to prevent our advertising from appearing on platforms that are not in line with our humanistic values. We are in the process of investigating how this may have occurred to ensure it won’t happen again in future, and have suspended paid display advertising in the meantime.”
Grolsch isn’t even sure that it has control has over its own money, saying: “We will do everything we possibly can to ensure Grolsch does not appear on this channel again.”
The statement added that the company, owned by Japan’s Asahi, “prides itself on core values of inclusion and openness to all people, and we want to be clear that we do not associate ourselves with any platforms or outlets that go against these values.”
Kopparberg was similarly aggrieved: “We want to make it clear to everyone that our ad ran on this channel without our knowledge or consent. Kopparberg is a drink for everyone and we have immediately suspended our ads from this channel pending further review of its content.”
The advertiser backlash against GB News, whose spots are sold by Sky Media, comes after activist groups including Stop Funding Hate campaigned against these brands. Nivea and the Open University were also surprised to see themselves on GB News and are pausing ads on the channel, although Nivea has said it will reconsider in three months’ time.
GB News’ opening night audience peaked at 336,000 viewers. This compared to 100,000 for BBC News Channel and 46,000 who watched Sky News across the hour from 8pm to 9pm, according to BARB.