News of the World advertisers targeted on Twitter in Milly Dowler fallout

The fallout from the story that the News of the World allegedly hacked the phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler could have far reaching implications for News International hitting all parts of its business including commercially as the paper’s advertisers are targeted via a Twitter campaign.

A list of News of the World advertisers have been published online with a link to a pre-prepared tweet asking if they will be reconsidering their advertising, such as this: “Dear @TheCooperative, will you be reconsidering your advertising spend with #notw given that we now know they hacked Milly Dowler’s phone?”

Advertisers include a host of household names including @TheCooperative, @easyjet and @VirginMedia among others are being contacted by Twitter users (see list at foot of post).

The story that News Of The World private investigator, Glenn Mulcaire,  hacked into the mobile phone of 13-year old Millie Dowler while she was missing in 2002 was broken last night by the Guardian and it is by far the most damaging phone hacking allegation to date. Calls for the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, the chief executive of News International, have been made.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger tweeted the story lastnight: “[@arusbridger] News of the World hacked Milly Dowler’s voicemail & deleted messages. Family says “heinous” #metgate”.

Mulcaire is said to have intercepted some messages and deleted others. It is said that this activity created false hope that Milly Dowler was still alive and had been using her phone.

There are already calls for people to stop buying the paper in the same way that The Sun was targeted in Liverpool after its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989 in which 96 fans died. The tabloid accused supporters of stealing from the dead.

However, targeting the paper’s advertisers has the potential to hit the Rupert Murdoch owned paper harder. A fallout of advertisers via an online campaign could cost the paper millions.

UPDATE  1 – Brand Republic is has contacted a number of brands who are playing a waiting game over allegations that the News of the World hacked into the mobile phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, before they decide whether to review their advertising with the paper.

Some brands such as the Co-op say they are standing by the paper until the allegations are proven. However, Channel 4 News is reporting that a major car advertiser is about to pull its advertising.

Elsewhere a Facebook page has been launched asking advertisers to boycott the News of the World this Sunday. So far it only has 160 members and it includes a number of links through to prominent News of the World advertisers including Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

“How about if advertisers boycotted the News of the World, for this coming Sunday at least. It would be an important symbol of their opposition to the wilder excesses of the tabloid press. Unwittingly, advertisers have part-funded the hacking of the phone of 13 year-old murder victim. It’s time they showed that they don’t approve of this in the most direct way they can – withdrawing their cash from the NotW for a week. It’s not asking much…is it?

The simple-to-use page with a list of News of the World advertisers allows Twitter users to send tweets direct to brands. The link was first published on Mumsnet, but is now being widely circulated on Twitter.

The website Bitter Wallet has also published a list of email addresses for senior executives at some of those companies via a PDF form and Excel file for those consumers who wish to use that approach.