Co-operative Group withdraws NOTW advertising

Advertising in the News of World has been withdrawn by the Co-operative Group following allegations the newspaper hacked into the mobile phone of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler.

National newspapers have revealed in the past two days that journalists hacked into Milly Dowler’s phone and deleted voicemail messages while she was missing. Other revelations have uncovered that victims of the London July 7th 2005 bombings were also targeted.

The Group, which operates nearly 3,000 food stores, with a further 1,000 stores supplied by the Co-operative Retail Trading Group, issued a statement that said the hacking activities have "been met with revulsion".

The full statement said: "The Co-operative Group has taken the decision to suspend temporarily any further advertising and promotional activity with the News of the World until the outcome of the investigation is known.

"The Group is a consumer-owned business which adheres to strong ethical standards. These allegations have been met with revulsion by the vast majority of members who have contacted us.

"We would urge everyone involved to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion for the sake of all those who are affected by these events."

Calls for The Co-operative to boycott the News of the World were directed at the society through Twitter and Facebook since yesterday. Thousands of Twitter users sent tweets to @TheCooperative account calling for the society to cease advertising in the tabloid. Member Alice Sinclair said: "As a concerned customer with your bank and a co-op member I do hope you will consider the Twitter campaign re NOTW."

Structural Engineer David Sharpe commented: "As a Co-op member, could you please not advertise with #NOTW and seriously same for all News-International publications?"

On its Twitter account, the Phone Co-op told its followers: "Not just advertisers ditching Murdoch. Disillusioned #Sky customers switching to us today. There is an alternative." 

Co-operative Group members also applied pressure through its Facebook group. Jayne McGeorge from Derby said: "The Co-operative — run by members, for members. As a member, I ask that the Co-op withdraw advertising in the News of the World."

While, Kate Leatherbarrow added: "Please don’t tarnish what we see as an ethical brand and reconsider your position, it’s not even as if you will reach many new customers this Sunday because no families will be buying the NoW."

Already high-profile companies including Ford, npower, Halifax, T-Mobile and Orange have either withdrawn or said they would be reviewing their advertising. News of the World typically charges around £60,000 for a full-page advert, with industry experts estimating the total loss from all companies could be around £3m a year.

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