American Express suspends advertising on Sky News in wake of Blair Cottrell controversy

American Express has suspended its advertising on Australian News Channel’s Sky News, saying the broadcaster’s content “does not reflect our brand values”.

The move follows consumer pressure in the wake of Sky News’ interview with far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell on Sunday evening.

Amex ads won’t be seen on Sky News for now

In the interview Cottrell advocated for immigration based on race. He has also previously expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler – suggesting his image be hung in every Australian classroom – and admitted to using “violence and terror” to manipulate women.

Despite Cottrell pushing back and insisting Sky News’ backflip is hypocritical – given the broadcaster invited him on in the first place – the interview has been removed from Sky’s social channels and will not be repeated on air.

Sky News’ director of news Greg Byrnes said the decision to have Cottrell on air, was the wrong one.

“His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms,” he said.

After mounting pressure online, American Express now announced it would suspend its advertising on Sky News as a result.

It is not yet clear what it will take for American Express to resume its commercial relationship with Sky News.

Luxury Escapes has also told the Twitterverse the brand is addressing the backlash immediately and will get its ads removed from Sky News.

American Express and Luxury Escapes’ announcements are the latest blow for Sky News this week following its interview with Cottrell.

Former Labor politician Craig Emerson quit as a Sky News commentator in the wake of the scandal, telling the public his father fought Nazis in World War II and was interred in a German prisoner of war camp.

“The decision to allow Neo-Nazi Blair Cotterell [sic] onto the channel was another step in a journey to normalising racism & bigotry in this country,” Emerson wrote on Twitter.

Sky News has now banned Cottrell from the channel and is investigating the editorial processes which enabled it to happen in the first place.

Soon-to-depart CEO Angelos Frangopoulos said Byrnes would be promoted to acting program director and Kaycie Bradford would become acting news director to bolster the broadcaster’s safety net.

Sky News’ political editor David Speers has also criticised the broadcaster’s decision to have Cottrell on air.

The Adam Giles Show – where the interview was broadcast – has been put “in recess” while its production format and structure is reviewed.

In response to the controversey, and the revelation he would not be allowed back on the News Corp-controlled channel, Cottrell sent out a tweet suggesting he “might as well have” raped Sky News political journalist Laura Jayes on air.

Virgin Australia has indicated it is looking into complaints about Sky News being broadcast in its frequent flyer lounges.

American Express has been approached for comment on what it will take for it to reignite its commercial relationship with Sky News, and whether it was genuine brand values, or consumer pressure, which led to the advertising suspension.

Sky News has been approached for comment about the response from advertisers and any further steps it is taking to protect brands aligned with its programs.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.