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Battling the tabloid bigots

Oct 23

Written by:
23/10/2017 12:22  RssIcon

A new campaign is helping shoppers fight bigotry and racism in the media, says Simon Birch


Are you funding hate? If you’re a customer of either EE or O2, two of the UK’s biggest broadband and mobile phone providers, then brace yourself for some bad news.

You’re probably unaware, but both of these companies are regular advertisers in the Daily Express, Daily Mail and the Sun. Crucially, their financial support is helping to keep these newspapers churning out their breathtakingly racist anti-Muslim and anti-refugee headlines.


Image: Daily Express


EE and O2 are just two of the companies now being targeted by Stop Funding Hate, a new groundbreaking campaign that’s challenging the overt racist content of the tabloids.

“Our aim is to persuade these newspapers that it no longer makes good business sense to use anti-Muslim and anti-migrant rhetoric on their front pages as a way of selling their newspapers” - Richard Wilson, Stop Funding Hate. 

By persuading companies such as EE and O2 to pull their advertising from the likes of the Sun, Wilson wants to put the financial squeeze on the tabloids’ bottom line.

“We want to get to a place where advertisers won’t want to be associated with this kind of hateful rhetoric and it won’t be profitable for these newspapers to publish it anymore.”


The Campaign

Stop Funding Hate launched in August 2016 when people came together online to express their shock and anger following an unprecedented number of negative headlines about refugees, Muslims and migrants in the Express, Mail and Sun. 

Many believed that the constant attack against these communities was fuelling the dramatic rise in hate crime across the country.

Such was the level of disgust directed against the likes of the Express that the online discussion quickly snowballed, resulting in a successful crowd-funding initiative that led to the launch of the campaign which now has over a quarter of a million Facebook followers.


So, how does the campaign get companies to stop advertising with the Mail or Sun?

“Quite simply we ask our supporters to get in touch with companies directly via a Tweet or through Facebook and explain why they should pull their advertising,” says Wilson.

“If enough people make their feelings known it can have an impact.”

The campaign notched up their first major win last November when Lego announced that they would be no longer be advertising in the Daily Mail. 

They were quickly followed by other companies including the Body Shop, ‘Ethical Consumer Best Buy’ company the Phone Co-op, and Evans Cycles, who all committed to stop advertising with the Mail.

Fashion retailer JOY have also pulled their online advertising with the Express and Mail. In a series of revealing Tweets the company said: 

“It was recently brought to our attention by @StopFundingHate that our ads were appearing next to transphobic and racist articles. JOY is a brand that pride themselves on diversity and inclusion, and we would never want to associate ourselves with these viewpoints.”


But is Stop Funding Hate realistically going to force the Sun to drop its racist language?

“The Achilles heel of newspapers such as the Sun is their increasing reliance on advertising revenue as more people read news online and don’t buy papers,” replies Wilson.

“Whilst most of us don’t read these papers, most of us are shopping with one of their advertisers.”

Our collaboration with Stop Funding Hate

Stop Funding Hate is now working with Ethical Consumer to achieve its strategic long-term goal of creating a publicly accessible database detailing where companies place their ads, which shoppers can then use when choosing who to shop with.

“This is a really exciting project to be involved with as it’s an entirely new form of ethical consumer campaigning”. - Josie Wexler, Ethical Consumer. 

“Shoppers have an incredibly powerful lever over newspapers such as the Sun because advertising revenue is crucial to the newspaper industry. But they’ve not been able to use it systematically until now.”

And it’s not just in the UK: activists are now targeting companies to pull their ads from racist and bigoted newspapers and websites right across Europe, the US and Australia.

By far the most successful of these is the Sleeping Giants campaign now storming across the US, which has the ultra-conservative and Trump-supporting Breitbart News firmly in its sights.

Since launching last autumn, the campaign has persuaded almost 3,000 companies to pull their ad spend from the Breitbart website.

“When companies see their brand next to inflammatory and bigoted content, they know it shuts off a large portion of their consumer base”.

“No company is going to remove ads because a Twitter account asks them to. They do it because they see that they don’t want to sponsor content that denigrates others.” - Sleeping Giants spokesperson. 




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