Following news that the U.K.’s News of the World Sunday magazine had hacked the voice mail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, Ford Motor Company pulled its advertising from Britain’s highest-circulating weekly. Not long afterward, Renault and Mitsubishi made the same decision along with other international companies like Coca-Cola, Virgin Holidays, and Lloyd’s Banking Group.
Owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, it was found on July 4 that News of the World, a gossip magazine that in the past has faced lawsuits for hacking celebrities’ phones, tapped into Dowler’s phone in 2002 and even went so far as to clear her messages when her voicemail became full. At the time, her body had not yet been found and her parents believed that she may still be alive since she was supposedly checking her phone.
Upon hearing the news and suspending its account, a Ford spokesperson said, “Ford is a company which cares about the standards of behavior of its own people and those it deals with externally. We are awaiting an outcome from the News of the World investigation.”
A campaign on Twitter has also followed with users sending, “Dear [@advertiser] Do you think it ethical to stock a newspaper prepared to hack a murdered girl’s phone?” The campaign targeted 17 of the magazine’s biggest advertisers including Mitsubishi and Renault, companies that have announced they are pulling their ads. Other companies have considered dropping advertising dollars from The Sun, the daily sister publication of News of the World. Meanwhile, Ford plans to keep advertising in other News Corp-owned titles.
News International CEO Rebekah Brooks, the editor of News of the World at the time when the phone hacking incident occurred, said in a statement, “I am determined to lead the company to ensure we do the right thing and resolve these serious issues.”