Pressure grows on Optus over sponsorship of rape radio show

The focus of the Kyle & Jackie O show’s rape debacle has begun to switch to programme sponsor Optus amid calls from within and outside the marketing industry for the network to be boycotted by advertisers while the controversial but high rating programme remains on air.  

Outspoken Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt today told his readers:

“The folks you want are the show’s main sponsor, Optus, and Sandilands’ boss, Austereo chief executive Michael Anderson.”

The row began on Wednesday after a 14-year-old girl taking part in a disastrous lie detector segment on the 2Day FM  show – which is also syndicated to the rest of Australia – was asked about her sexual activities and she blurted out that she had been raped. Presenter Kyle Sandilands asked a follow up question about her other sexual experiences before the segment was dumped.

Ben Shepherd, national digital director at Maxus, which is part of WPP’s Group M, wrote on Twitter yesterday: “Optus need to walk from Kyle and Jackie O immediately and yank their Austereo group adspend until they are taken off air.” Group M (which doesn’t have Optus as a client) spends millions of dollars a year on radio in Australia.

Adam Ferrier, managing partner at communications agency Naked Commununications, put up his own blog posting urging for the pair to be axed. Commenting on Ferrier’s blog, Shepherd urged the industry: 

“If the ad industry wants to do something good  it would send a message to Austereo by not advertising on the network until Kyle and Jackie are taken off the air. My thoughts are that is the only protest ultimately Austereo and Village Roadshow will listen to – the sound of dollars walking out the door.”

Other messages have also appeared on Twitter, and on news websites urging customers to put pressure on Optus to pull its support of the show. On Mumbrella, one advertising creative posted a link to the Optus complaints form urging others to make their protest.

Despite the potential for a backlash against the brand, by yesterday afternoon it did not appear to have occurred to Optus that it could be an issue. When Mumbrella called the corporate communications team on Thursday afternoon, staff appeared to be unaware of Optus’s link with the show. A spokeswoman said: “If we’ve got something to say I’ll call back.” So far Optus has not returned any comment.

The level of coverage of Vile & Tacky O, as Sydney’s Daily Telegraph has labelled the affair – shows no sign of abating from today’s newspapers and morning TV shows, with most of them continuing the critical coverage following critical comments from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday. The affair has also generated the most comments on a single article since The Punch launched with more than 500 comments on a guest posting from Sandilands in which he blames the press for the fuss.

If the row continues into next week, it threatens to overshadow the launch event of digital radio in Australia when Kyle & Jackie O are due to join presenters from every radio statio in Sydney in Martin Place to mark the official launch.

The complaints procedure for radio means that although the Australian Communications and Media Authority has the right to instigate an investigation – as it did for the cash for comments affair – radio stations are usually the first port of call for complaints. So far ACMA has chosen not to get involved. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Austereo confirmed that complaints had been received but declined to give any indication as to numbers.

And the issue is also a live one for TV network Ten, with Australian Idol about to return with Sandilands as a judge.


  1. Kings Hit
    31 Jul 09
    8:28 am

  2. If Optus are serious about their sponsorship of Kids Help Line, they’d pull ad spend from Kyle and Jackie O.

  3. re: turn on
    31 Jul 09
    8:32 am

  4. Advertisers pulling out is one thing, I’m still trying to fathom why people tune into these half-wits. Unfortunately, the debacle will probably serve only to increase listener numbers of this “controversial but high rating programme”…

  5. Anonymous
    31 Jul 09
    9:05 am

  6. That is ridiculous.

  7. Matt Granfield
    31 Jul 09
    9:40 am

  8. I’m appalled at how this has panned out. In fact I think it’s morally reprehensible. I’ve started a Twitter hashtag campaign – just tweet #optus #stopsponsoringaustereo – hopefully they’ll listen then!

  9. Grant
    31 Jul 09
    10:15 am

  10. Top work Matt, and I am glad this is gaining momentum. There’s a Facebook Group too – Boycott sponsors of Kyle and Jackie O.
    This pair haven’t even had a slap on the wrist, and I cannot fathom how a brand like Optus can align itself with such atrocious content. Surely they would have far more to gain by publicly demonstrating their good corporate citizenship and withdrawing sponsorship of the program?

  11. AW
    31 Jul 09
    10:21 am

  12. I think there should be boycotting of Australian Idol too.

  13. Jay
    31 Jul 09
    10:36 am

  14. Right on Matt.

    As for contacting austereo, their website is atrocious. Still can’t find complaints info on it, so I rang them. Complaints to:

    Austereo Group
    Att: General Manager
    Level 2, 257 Clarendon Street,
    South Melbourne, Victoria 3205

    I have contacted Optus as well and notified them that unless they pull their advertising, I will be taking my mobile and net business accounts elsewhere.

  15. Matt Granfield
    31 Jul 09
    10:43 am

  16. P.S. Tim, I’d love to see an opinion piece from you on this – Adam’s was good, but you should pipe up too! I wrote mine at

  17. Bill Posters
    31 Jul 09
    10:48 am

  18. So far ACMA has chosen not to get involved.

    Gee, there’s a surprise.

  19. Grant
    31 Jul 09
    10:57 am

  20. Looks like Optus might be listening – the sponsorship banner that was on the Kyle and Jackie O homepage yesterday is GONE!!!

    Can anyone in Adland verify anything?

  21. Observer
    31 Jul 09
    10:57 am

  22. when checking out the furore via the Daily Telly’s story online I clicked on the Audio feed on the story to listen to the offending radio piece – I got an alchopop video pre roll ad for Smirnoff – tacky

  23. karthik Narayan
    31 Jul 09
    10:58 am

  24. I havent watched Australian Idol since this Twit started on there and I hope a lot of people let the shows advertisers and network know. The only true way of doing this is switching the channel.

    Turns on. No idea why people listens to this show.

  25. Hirsty
    31 Jul 09
    11:46 am

  26. How many outraged Austereo stock holders are selling I wonder?

  27. Chris
    31 Jul 09
    11:54 am

  28. Just noted this morning the 2dayFM website is now blocked by work proxy ….. Seems IT is taking action against these annoying cretins.

  29. Kel
    31 Jul 09
    11:57 am

  30. Okay – so maybe I am the only person in the world who thinks this is ridiculous?

    I happened to be listening live to the now notorious segment on the Kyle & Jackie O Show this week. What occurred is not at all how the press and ‘commentators’ have reported it.

    The show producers AND the hosts were equally as appalled as listeners to the statement by the young girl, and it should be the mother who is vilified for having the knowledge and STILL putting her on the air. The hosts pulled the segment immediately and offered the right kind of counselling and support that she should have received in the first place, if her mother had been responsible.

    The young lady in question is obviously unsettled (according to her mother in the lead-up part to the beginning of the lie detector test), at the age of 14 smoking, doing drugs, lying to her mother about going to bed at 9.30pm and then being brought home by the police in the small hours, but given what has happened to her without professional help – who can blame her.

    Please people, look at the mother, NOT the radio show or the sponsors. This is our chance to help this girl and do something good, not remove a sponsor who’s partnership and therefore business assists young people.

  31. Mitch P
    31 Jul 09
    11:58 am

  32. Sorry, but nothing will come of this. Those two will continue presenting, ratings will keep up and Austereo will ignore the issue. Don’t expect anything to change.

  33. CC
    31 Jul 09
    12:12 pm

  34. I agree with you Kel – 100% the mother here is at fault – and yes the media has definaley got the wrong angle on the story.

  35. Snake Gallagher
    31 Jul 09
    12:17 pm

  36. Once again, with little else to attack, the media companies turn on themselves for an internal feeding frenzy. The motivations of the opposing networks are bleeding transparent but as for the rest of you, get a life.
    You spend your days designing misleading, dodgy ad campaigns that are borderline legal and high impact stunts designed to grab thirty seconds of coverage at the cost of responsible journalism and you nail these guys for lack of consideration? Come on. It was a controversial approach to an everyday parental concern about underage sex. Nobody knew the girl had been raped. Now you are underscoring that girl’s feelings of guilt and embarrassment.
    Give it up. Get back to work you bums.

  37. Tony Davis
    31 Jul 09
    12:17 pm

  38. So many are appalled by the show, the Gerry Springers of radio. It is our role in the industry to help regulate and recognize ‘right and wrong’…not just chase ratings. Continued exploitation of people’s terrible misfortune…especially children…should hear a resounding and unoqivocal rejection from our industry.

  39. Jonathan Levy
    31 Jul 09
    12:23 pm

  40. This could be an opportunity for Optus. According to the super brands website, the Optus brand values include: To challenge the status quo. To make things better for all Australians. And to champion customers’ interests.

    Perhaps Optus could promote the awareness and support of child rape in Australia. I am sure the guys at Austereo would be open to ideas. This saga has become very divisive. The only way out is to make a positive out of a this for all to embrace. Lead the way Optus!

  41. AW
    31 Jul 09
    12:26 pm

  42. @ Kel

    Actually Kel – Triple J’s Hack program played the segment as it ran – so I got to hear exactly what happened. Not sensationalised by any one.

    Regardless of the rape issue, you don’t have a girl of this age being questioned about her sex life on national radio.

    Optus shouldn’t be supporting this and unless they do something, my accounts will go to another company.

    On another note…while Big Brother was on the way out, don’t you think that the backlash against Kyle might have given it a big push out the door?

  43. Gary
    31 Jul 09
    12:31 pm

  44. Kel, Thank you for some balance. Would I be cynical to suggest this is partly about damaging the ratings of these personalities and the ad dollars they pull.

  45. Shirley
    31 Jul 09
    12:37 pm

  46. Kyle and Jackie O are appalling anyway, but where was the mother in this? The girl clearly didn’t want to do it, and her disgusting mother chose to put her daughter on the radio to discuss something (perceived possibility of sexual activity) that in the case of a 14 year old girl is better discussed with a counsellor, in private, so that if there is a problem with precocious sexuality it can be dealt with in a manner beneficial to the child. How on earth does putting a lie detector on a child on a radio show in any way fulfil the criteria of a good parent to protect her child. Disgusting radio show. Disgusting parent.

  47. Hirsty
    31 Jul 09
    12:42 pm

  48. Who finds it acceptable to humiliate a 14 year old girl?
    Who profits from that?
    Isn’t trust the real victim in this appalling debacle?

  49. Lachy
    31 Jul 09
    12:59 pm

  50. @ Kel

    No doubt the mother’s actions are reprehensible here.

    However, the presenters and radio station have far more to answer for. As has been well covered, the segment was a gross violation of the girls rights and should never have got approval. Hell it should never have even been seriously considered.

    But lets be honest, this sort of behaviour is de rigueur for the Kyle and Jackie O show, and particularly Kyle.

    Absolutely they must be sent a message. Austereo won’t do anything about this on their own, they and Kyle/Jackie and a bunch of bullies and have grown fat and wealthy from it. It’s lowest common denomenator at its worst and is grossly detrimental to society.

    Imagine if all advertisers refused to sponsor anything that Kyle/Jackie were involved in from now on. The precedent would by amazing.

  51. jules
    31 Jul 09
    3:08 pm

  52. @ lachy
    I agree with you completely. The idea that a production crew suggested getting a minor discuss the activities of their body while hooked up to a lie detector test is appalling. The fact that this concept was approved and subsequently a minor, with guardian, was sought, equally appalling. The mother has ultimate responsibility for her daughter but let’s face it, if this family had declined the opportunity to win pink tickets in this manner, another would have agreed. This segment would have aired one way or another. I have no idea the circumstances of the parent, i do not know why she made the decisions she did but public outrage or hatred of the mother wont help the daughter one bit. Clearly she needs some assistance in the parenting department. The parent also didnt design this segment nor market it. It went to air because of the producers, presenters and sponsors. We also know that kyle and jackie o have escaped reprimand for their small minded, unintelligible opinions for long enough. They have made money and claimed fame for it. And this time they agreed to conduct a segment which stepped over the line in every possible way. They are accountable.
    Its a tragedy someone so young has experienced rape, and that it was outed on national radio. But it was appalling, prior to this, simply by placing her (a minor) in a group of adults and asking about about her sex life. Rant complete!

  53. Spunky1972
    31 Jul 09
    3:31 pm

  54. I don’t know who is to blame for this – I feel the mother is.

    I just think it’s tragic that a 14 year old consents to being grilled on national radio, wired up to a lie detector, because it’s the only way she thinks her mother will believe that she was raped – what a horrific ordeal

  55. Billy C
    31 Jul 09
    3:51 pm

  56. People may also consider writing to Singtel perhaps. The logo has gone from the shows website.

  57. Wayne
    31 Jul 09
    4:05 pm

  58. Optus. Proud sponsor of underage child sex.

  59. Chris
    31 Jul 09
    5:36 pm

  60. That Kyle and Jackie O are heinous cretins is a given, it’s not news, but so are all the people in any way associated with them. This not only includes the producers and sponsors of their asinine “show”, the appalling mother that foisted this outrage on her daughter, the scum that dreamed the whole stunt up, but wait for it, the listeners too. If there wasn’t an audience for this swill, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. So come on people, take some responsibilty for what enters your ears, lift your game, and stop listening to this crap. If enough people turn off, these awful “personalities” will just disappear back into the dark hole they crawled out from.

  61. Andrew Yoole
    1 Aug 09
    8:13 pm

  62. @ Kel,

    Are you serious??! You comment yourself that the girl is unstable, so what show-producer, lawyer or host could POSSIBLY justify questioning that underaged girl on a light entertainment program during a morning broadcast?

    The media hasn’t got it wrong, Kel. This kind of program damages people like the 14yo girl in question. If the producers were genuinely concerned for her welfare, why not send her to a professional counselor, rather than strap her to a lie detector against her will and get two bimbo hosts to question her on public radio?

    The girl now not only has to deal with her own demons, she has issues of public ridicule and shame compounding her confused young life. The program was a disgrace BEFORE she revealed she’d been raped.

  63. Andrew Yoole
    1 Aug 09
    9:17 pm

  64. I can’t find a link to post a complaint online to 2Day FM, but Austereo has one:

    I urge everyone to notify Austereo of your concerns about this issue. I’ve cross-posted this link on all of Mumbrella’s related threads.

  65. Rod
    2 Aug 09
    4:42 pm

  66. People keep reporting on this single segment which went wrong. This segment has been running for 3 years and this is the first time something has gone wrong.

    How about list the donations they have made to charaties and how many families they have helped over the years?

  67. Robyn
    3 Aug 09
    1:16 am

  68. Sorry but I don’t think the girl was totally innocent in this case. She knew exactly what the question was asking. The question was if she had sex, not if she had been raped. The girl then chose to blurt out on national radio in a cocky voice that she had been raped. It came across to me that she wanted to embarrass the mother by blurting that out. The girl was in full control of what she said and she was the one to allow them to strap her to a lie detector. Nobody forced her to do this. It isn’t the fault of the radio announcers. There is no way they could have predicted what the girl was going to say and they sure as hell couldn’t control what came out of her mouth. The whole situation has been blown out of proportion and Kyle and Jackie could lose their jobs over this. Very sad situation.

  69. Andrew Yoole
    3 Aug 09
    1:46 am

  70. ^ Hey, Robyn, you’re right!

    It’s almost as if she was, like, a kid, and made irresponsible decisions!

    Maybe, if there were some responsible adults around – like, producers of a publicly broadcast radio show – they might have realised it was irresponsible to put a 14 year old onto a lie detector! And question her about her sex life?

    Ya think?

  71. jules
    3 Aug 09
    8:07 pm

  72. andrew yole you’re my hero.

    robyn you are not.

    did i read that correctly? an adult is blaming the victim and a child at that? the girl didn’t want to be on the show, she announced that at the start quite clearly. the adults didn’t listen.

    should she had answered ‘no’ to having sex and been detected to be lying, she would have been probed to tell the truth and this story would have unraveled anyhow. should she have answered ‘yes’ to having had sex (neglecting to mention it wasn’t her choice), then she would have endured the scrutiny of not only the adults in the room but the listeners as well. she should never, ever have been set up like this.

    the only people deserving to be judged are those who are responsible for the segment going to air and the legal guardian. and once that judgment has been handed down by the necessary authorities on the matter.. then everyone can get back to their day jobs (if they still have one).


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