Commercial pressure is growing on Southern Cross Austereo with Coles the first major brand to pull its advertising from the Today Network over a prank call which has been linked to the suicide of a nurse in the UK.
The superarket chain posted a message on its Facebook page telling customers that it has pulled all Coles group advertising. Other brands within the Coles group include Bi-Lo, Liquorland, Kmart, Officeworks and Target.
News emerged overnight that the nurse who put the prank call from Today FM presenters Michael ‘MC’ Christian and Mel Greig through to the hospital ward treating the Duchess of Cambridge for acute morning sickness appeared to have killed herself.
The duo made the call on Monday, doing impersonations of Prince Charles and The Queen and after being put through, tricking another nurse into sharing confidential information about the princess’ condition.
An organised boycott of advertisers would have serious consequences for the radio station which could be worse then those experienced in previous incidents involving the Kyle & Jackie O Show. In those cases, the focus of boycotts was the network’s Sydney station 2Day FM. But the Hot Summer 30 prank was aired across Southern Cross Austereo’s national Today Network, potentially dragging in Melbourne’s Fox FM, Adelaide’s SAFM, 92.9 in Perth and B105 in Brisbane, along with regional stations.
And since the furores over Sandiland’s lie detector scandal and attack on a News Limited journalist, campaigners have honed their techniques. A campaign to persuade advertisers to boycott the Alan Jones show on 2GB, which was driven via the change.org platform was highly effective with many major brands still avoiding the program.
A petition started earlier today on change.org calling for Christian and Greig to be dismissed has so far achieved more 4,000 signatories. However, there does not as yet appear to be a petition on the site specifically calling for an advertiser boycott.
Meanwhile the 2Day FM Facebook page has already attracted more than 12,000 comments on its statement regarding the tragedy.