Stationery retailer Paperchase has made a u-turn on a Christmas wrapping paper promotion it was running with the Daily Mail over the weekend, after customers said they didn't perceive the brand's values to align with those of the paper.
Following additional pressure online from the Stop Funding Hate campaign, which lobbies advertisers to stop spending money with right-wing papers it believes to be "spreading hate," the brand took to Twitter to apologise for the tie-up.
The Daily Mail has said it believes the brand was "bullied into" the decision.
The promotion, which offered free Christmas wrapping paper to Daily Mail readers, courted hundreds of complaints, with many customers taking to Paperchase's Facebook to express concerns about the tabloid's coverage of the LGBT community and other minority groups.
*Lots* of comments on this Paperchase Facebook post from customers urging them to rethink their partnership with the Daily Mail: https://t.co/VpekNX4L8d#StartSpreadingLove#StopFundingHatepic.twitter.com/DUegdgs3cw
— Stop Funding Hate (@StopFundingHate) November 19, 2017
On Sunday, a Paperchase spokesperson tweeted: “We’ve listened to you about this weekend’s newspaper promotion. We now know we were wrong to do this - we’re truly sorry and we won’t ever do it again. Thanks for telling us what you really think and we apologise if we have let you down on this one. Lesson learnt."
From this statement alone, it's not clear if the brand has entirely frozen ad spend with the publisher, as others like Lego and fashion retailer Joy have done. The Drum has reached out to Paperchase for clarification on the matter.
In a blanket statement issued to the press, a Daily Mail spokesperson said it had only run a single promotion with Paperchase, and that it was "disingenuous" of the brand to say it won't be giving the paper repeat business.
“However it is deeply worrying that Paperchase should have allowed itself to be bullied into apologising – on the back of a derisory number of Facebook comments and tweets – to internet trolls orchestrated by a small group of hard left Corbynist individuals seeking to suppress legitimate debate and impose their views on the media," the media giant added.
“Has the company considered what message they are sending to the four million people who read the Daily Mail on Saturday, many of whom will be their customers?
“It is one of the fundamental principles of free and fearless journalism that editorial decisions are not dictated by advertisers or commercial partners, and we are sure anyone who values freedom of expression will be as appalled as we are by Stop Funding Hate’s attempts to threaten the Mail and other newspapers.”
Meanwhile, Stop Funding Hate director Richard Wilson said Paperchase deserved credit for listening to its customers and acting promptly to "rethink its relationship with the Daily Mail."
He added: "Amid growing concern among consumers about the impact of divisive media, more and more companies are seeing the business benefits of advertising ethically. We hope that other companies will now follow Paperchase's example.”
Today's news comes amid a growing debate around brand safety and the role publishers' editorial stance has to play in purchasing decisions.