Marks & Spencer to face calls at AGM by anti-racist and migrant rights groups to drop Daily Mail advertising

Monday, 10 July, 2017
 * Over 70 groups sign open letter saying that M&S is contributing to “tide of harassment & violence
 * 
Over 60,000 people petition CEO Steve Rowe to drop controversial advertising deal
 

What: Marks and Spencer, Annual General Meeting
When: Tuesday 11 July, 11.00am
Where: Wembley Stadium

Marks and Spencer will face calls at their AGM on Tuesday to stop advertising in the Daily Mail, with an open letter being delivered by a large cross section of UK anti-racist and migrant solidarity groups in which it says that, “M&S’s financial support for the Daily Mail is actively contributing to the growing tide of harassment and violence that migrants (including asylum seekers and refugees), Muslims and people of colour are facing on the streets of the UK.”

A protest organised by campaign groups Global Justice Now and SumOfUs will be taking place outside the AGM, where the attendees will be handed copies of the open letter, and shareholders will be inside the meeting to address the board directly.  Over the course of the day, a mobile billboard will be driving to various M&S locations in London emblazoned with a message urging M&S to stop supporting hate and racism through the Daily Mail.

Aisha Dodwell, a campaigner from Global Justice Now said: “M&S proudly proclaims its ethical business credentials and presents itself as a socially responsible company so why are they associating themselves with newspapers that promote hate? The tidal wave of hatred and mistrust of migrants and refugees in the UK is being stoked and encouraged by purposefully selective and insinuating reporting from newspapers like the Daily Mail. People are increasingly recognising the responsibility that newspapers like the Daily Mail have for the toxic and hate-fuelled atmosphere around the migration debate in the UK, and they are using their consumer power to put pressure on companies like M&S that are financially supporting them to do it.”

Sondhya Gupta, campaigner at SumOfUs said: “Papers like the Daily Mail publish hate-filled and misinformed pieces that cause real harm to real people. SumOfUs members on both sides of the Atlantic are demanding companies including M&S don’t spend the profits they make from us in a way that causes direct damage to individuals and our communities — whether that’s through advertising in the British tabloid press or on Breitbart, the media wing of Trump’s administration.”

A recent United Nations report singled out the UK’s media as being “uniquely aggressive in its campaigns against refugees and migrants,” and last week it was revealed that the highest spike in racist and religious hate crimes ever recorded took place after the EU referendum.  Recent campaign groups like Stop Funding Hate have been putting pressure on brands with strong ethical guidelines that advertise in newspapers like the Daily Mail, arguing that, “customers are becoming increasingly aware that by shopping with brands who advertise in divisive newspapers, they are inadvertently funding their own demonisation, or that of their family, friends and neighbours.”

In November 2016 the toy company Lego announced it was ending its promotional deals with the Daily Mail over its coverage of migration and refugees. More recently 935 companies have withdrawn advertising from the far-right website Breitbart following a public backlash and the work of the Sleeping Giants campaign and SumOfUs, resulting in a 90% drop of adverts on the site. Across the UK activists have been hiding mini-leaflets inside Marks & Spencer products that draw the links between the anti-migrant hysteria being fuelled by the Daily Mail and M&S products.  Almost 16,000 people have contacted the M&S CEO to ask him to drop Daily Mail Advertising, while over 44,000 people have signed a petition to the same effect.