London arts hub, the Southbank Centre, has scrapped future advertising from the Daily Mail after a Richard Littlejohn column urged readers: “Please don’t pretend two dads is the new normal.”
Center Parcs said it was stopping advertising in the Daily Mail with “immediate effect” and other brands including Iceland, NatWest, the Craft Gin Club and AutoTrader said they were reviewing their advertising in the newspaper.
The piece, which was described by many readers on Twitter as “homophobic”, was in response to the news that Olympic diver Tom Daley and his husband Dustin Black are having a child via a surrogate.
“Before the usual suspects start bouncing up and down, squealing ‘homophobia’, don’t bother,” wrote Littlejohn, adding: “I still cling to the belief that children benefit most from being brought up by a man and a woman.”
Online campaign group Stop Funding Hate called out the London venue – which is the UK’s largest arts centre – for advertising with the newspaper following the publication of Littlejohn’s column.
In response, a spokesperson for the Southbank Centre, which has advertised in print and digitally in the publication twice in the past 12 months, told HuffPost UK: “We reach out to audiences through wide-ranging online and offline media titles, across the political spectrum. We monitor the environment in which our advertising appears, to ensure the values of the publication are compatible with our own. We have no future plans to advertise within the Daily Mail.”
The venue is an ardent supporter of LGBT+ rights and threw a huge wedding party to celebrate the Gay Marriage Act in 2013. During the Big Wedding Weekend, 70 couples, both gay and straight, got married or renewed their vows.
Response to the move has been largely positive on Twitter.
Stop Funding Hate founder Richard Wilson said: “The Daily Mail is increasingly out of touch with the views of mainstream British society – and it’s no surprise that more and more advertisers are distancing themselves.
“A recent YouGov poll found that 58% of people believe that companies should withdraw their advertising if it is placed next to content they think is racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic. The same poll found that barely 10% of people believe that the Daily Mail has a positive influence on our society.
“The South Bank Centre are to be commended for responding promptly to their members’ concerns.”
Quorn, Suzuki, Iceland, Carpetright, NatWest and the Co-op were also identified as advertisers with the newspaper.
A spokesman for Co-op said: “We’ve consulted with our members on this matter and the current view of the majority is that it’s not right for us to use advertising spend to influence editorial. During this discussion with our members it also became clear that they wanted our advertising in these publications to reflect and promote our values even more strongly, the most recent being our campaign to tackle modern slavery.”
Other brands said they were reviewing their advertising with the Daily Mail.
NatWest tweeted: “We take this issue extremely seriously. This is not content sponsored by us. Our ads are served up through a third party and we are investigating why they have appeared here.” Bettys bakery said: “We’re reviewing the websites on which our adverts display to ensure that we don’t appear alongside any content that is not consistent with the things we stand for.”
Web developers Makers Academy said it was looking to “resolve” the matter.
A spokeswoman for frozen food giant Iceland said the brand: “will continue to advertise where we are able to reach significant numbers of our customers. We will naturally review where we place our advertising if our customers stop buying any particular newspaper because they do not approve of its editorial content.”
The Daily Mail has been contacted for comment.