Alan Jones’ Jacinda Ardern comment sparks mass exodus of advertisers

At least 10 brands have committed to pulling advertising from Alan Jones’ 2GB breakfast show, or confirmed their stance to continue to not advertise, in the wake of last week’s comment that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should shove a sock down New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s throat.

Anytime Fitness, ME Bank, Bing Lee, RSL Art Union, Amart, Mercedes Benz, Snooze, Bunnings, Total Tools and Big W have all issued statements after pressure mounted against advertisers, largely in response to a campaign by activist groups Mad Fucking Witches and Sleeping Giants.

“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat,” Jones said after Ardern suggested Australia needs to “answer to the Pacific” on climate change. He then released a statement to say the resulting outrage was “wilful misrepresentation” because he meant to say that Ardern should “put a sock in it”.

Jones has apologised for his comments, but Macquarie’s boss has given him his final warning

Following backlash from the public and advertisers, chairperson of 2GB-owner Macquarie Media, Russell Tate, issued a statement warning that Jones’ contract will be terminated if he missteps again.

“Notwithstanding his apologies, I have today discussed the matter with Alan and advised him that any recurrence of commentary of this nature will result in the termination of his contract,” Tate said in a statement issued on Saturday.

Sleeping Giants responded to Jones’ comment by asking people on Twitter to “let his advertisers know how you feel”, and told Mumbrella it wants media agencies to start “playing the blame game”.

“We don’t want to talk about Jones, Macquarie Media or Nine Entertainment taking responsibility for what Jones said last week, what he has said before or what he will inevitably say in the future,” Sleeping Giants said.

“We would rather talk about companies, advertising agencies and media buyers. … We are told over and over by companies ‘We were unaware our ads were appearing on that program’. How does that happen?

“We want companies and the industry to start playing the blame game.”

ME Bank was the first advertiser to pull out, confirming on Friday that it has pulled advertising from 2GB because Jones’ comments “don’t reflect our values”.

Then came the RSL Art Union, which said it has instructed its agency to pull ongoing spots from Jones’ show.

Over the weekend, Mercedes Benz confirmed it does not advertise on Jones’ breakfast show, a decision the luxury brand has “stood by for many years”. An advertisement that did appear during the slot was from a dealer associated with the company, the statement said, but it will work with that dealer network to re-evaluate advertisements associated with Jones.

Bing Lee stated that, as a “an Australian family-owned business”, Jones’ comments do not reflect its values and also pulled advertising.

Snooze has also pulled all advertising from the show, while Bunnings said it does not advertise on Jones’ slot, but does place ads on 2GB during relevant gardening programs. It said two ads were aired “incorrectly”, “without authorisation from Bunnings”, which it is following up.

Big W, meanwhile, reassured customers that it will no longer be running ads with 2GB, stating that ads bought with the Australian Traffic Network will exclude the station moving forward.

Total Tools said in private messages to a customer that “the reported comments are not appropriate in any context, and at Total Tools we pride ourselves on promoting equality in all facets of our community”. It added that it aligns closely with the NRL broadcast on the station, but noted that the brand’s advertising manager is in discussions with 2GB.

“I would say we will be pulling our ads from their station,” the final message read.

And Anytime Fitness announced this morning it pulled advertising on Friday following customer feedback.

Founder of Mad Fucking Witches Jennie Hill says the pages’ followers are thrilled with how the campaign is going so far, and newly energised to keep up the pressure.

“Women have had enough of being talked about as if we are punching bags for men who disagree with them,” Hill told Mumbrella.

In addition to its campaign encouraging people to contact advertisers directly, Sleeping Giants has launched parallel campaigns to #SendASock to Nine chairperson Peter Costello (Nine is a majority shareholder of Macquarie Media and last week launched a complete takeover bid). And the group is similarly asking taxi drivers to #ChangeTheStation and stop listening to 2GB.

Jones has previously spoken about putting former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a chaff bag and taking her out to sea. He added that Gillard’s father “died of shame”, claimed that female leaders are “destroying the joint”, and said that New South Wales’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s head is “in a noose”.

Last year alone, Jones used the ‘n-word’ on air again, demanded Opera House CEO Louise Herron resign over the Everest advertising debate, lost a $3.4m defamation case, said on ABC’s Q&A that female MPs who have alleged male colleagues have bullied them should “take a teaspoon of cement and toughen up“, and launched an attack on female sports journalist Beth Newman.

He signed on for a further two years with 2GB in May.

Sleeping Giants believes Jones is a risk to brand safety, and agencies must take responsibility, adding: “[We] don’t profess to know the inner workings of the industry but what we do know is that Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, Sunrise, A Current Affair or the array of other repeat offenders have widely-known form and when the inevitable incendiary article, comment or segment creates a public outrage, no one is putting their hand up to take responsibility for a company’s brand being exposed.”

UPDATE 20 August: Koala, Lowe’s, and Aveo Retirement Villages have also pulled advertising, bringing the total count to 14. Newly-discovered audio reveals that Jones also said of Ardern: “Now I hope Scott Morrison gets tough here with a few backhanders. Hasn’t got a clue, this woman”.


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