By Dan Heard
There have been a few unceremonious break ups over the past few months. Brad and Angelina. The UK and the European Union. The USA and common sense. There is one that might seem slightly trivial when compared to these that got a fair share of attention this week, and rightly so. Lego have announced that they are ending their association with the Daily Mail, finishing a deal that has seen the Danish-based company give away free toys to readers for a number of years.
Lego have ended their association due to what they consider to be “divisive” coverage of migrants in the newspaper. It follows on from a campaign urging big firms to stop advertising with distributors who “portray migrants in overwhelmingly negative terms”. The ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign has lobbied against a number of companies, including Marks and Spencer, Waitrose and John Lewis, to follow Lego in uniting against the likes of the Mail, Daily Express and The Sun. The appeals come only weeks after the Mail and the Express ran headlines and front page stories damning the High Court ruling that Parliament must be given a vote before the government can trigger Article 50 and begin negotiating Brexit.
Criticism of the tabloid’s coverage of migrants hasn’t just come from Lego though. Last month, Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker faced an enormous backlash on social media after appealing for basic human decency to be shown towards migrants by the media, and by our society as a whole. Instead of being supported for his views, he was ostracised, told to sit down, shut up and focus on football.
As the face of Walker’s crisps for nearly thirty years, he does have a fair bit of swaying power behind him, lobbying for the Leicestershire firm to end their advertisements in The Sun, who have never been afraid to court controversy, as Lineker knows all too well. I find it hard to believe that this kind of action hasn’t happened sooner. These papers have such a clear political agenda and ideology that of course their coverage of issues such as migration and Britain’s position within Europe would be reflected as such. Advertising exists to make money for the companies promoting their products, but that doesn’t mean that they are not involved in what is going on, as newspapers increasingly rely on the revenue to keep churning out these stories.
‘Stop Funding Hate’ posted a video online reminding viewers who were excitedly looking forward to the new John Lewis Christmas advert, that once Buster the Boxer had stopped bouncing on the trampoline, Britain’s favourite department store will go back to funding hate and discrimination in the national press through their advertisements. With as much uncertainty as there is following the results of both the EU referendum and, of course, the US Presidential Election, the last thing that is needed is a double-page spread slating migrant families next to some salt and vinegar crisps. That decision is now with the advertisers.