Sky News loses brand sponsors following Blair Cottrell interview

By @chelean on
Pedestrians walk past an American Express sign in New York U.S., July 16, 2018.
Pedestrians walk past an American Express sign in New York U.S., July 16, 2018. Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Sky News has lost three brand sponsors since airing an interview of far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell. American Express, Huggies and Specsavers have all suspended their relationship with the news channel as news director Greg Byrnes admitted error in judgment.

On Tuesday, American Express pulled its advertising from the channel following Cottrell’s interview with the titular host of “The Adam Giles Show” on Sunday.

“American Express has made the decision to suspend advertising from Sky News, as recent content on the channel does not reflect our brand values,” it said on Twitter, responding to a follower asking to reconsider its partnership with Sky News.

Activist group Sleeping Giants OZ, which has been directing its followers to demand companies to pull their ads from Sky News, also confirmed on Wednesday that Specsavers Australia has removed its ads from the network.

“We are a proud family company with strong family values. While from time to time we have had ads run on SkyNews, we don’t sponsor Sky News, we don’t have any commercial dealings with SKyNews and we don’t directly purchase advertising within SkyNews. Following the Blair Cottrell interview, we have advised our media buyers to ensure our advertising doesn’t run on SkyNews,” the optical retail chain replied in a private message to the group.

Nappy company Huggies also responded, saying it has since pulled ads from Sky News.

Sleeping Giants OZ and its followers continue to reach out to the channel’s brand sponsors to reconsider advertising on Sky News.

Meanwhile, Byrnes admitted that it was his decision to give former Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles the green light to interview Cottrell. He has allegedly since told staff that he made the wrong call, Sydney Morning Herald reports.

“Yes, regretfully, it was my error,” he said in a statement. “The company undertook a review and advised me of an immediate change to the editorial status.”

Chief executive Angelos Frangopoulous has said they would never have Cottrell appear as commentator on the channel again. “The Adam Giles Show” has since been suspended pending an internal review. The interview has also been scrubbed from all platforms of Sky News following an apology from the channel.

On Monday, former Trade minister Craig Emerson quit as commentator on the news channel. He cited the Cottrell interview as reason.