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GB News issues open letter to ad industry after “abuse”

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The Chief Executive of GB News has written an open letter to the advertising industry after its Commercial Director was “abused by a baying mob” at a Manchester awards ceremony.

According to the news outlet, Nicole O’Shea was told to “f**k off” by a “large group of fist-pumping men, who threatened her and screamed abuse about The People’s Channel.”

O’Shea was at the event to present a number of advertising awards.

The company has accused Stop Funding Hate of “stirring up fury” against it, along with demanding an advertising boycott.


Angelos Frangopoulos, Chief Executive Officer of GB News wrote in response:

“[…] the ceremony became a lesson in hypocrisy and revealed much about the contempt some in the industry hold for true diversity.

Our Commercial Director Nicole O’Shea was shouted at and heckled as she tried to present three awards for genuine brilliance among her peers.

With mob mentality, guests fist-pumped and goaded each other to hurl more abuse, yelling “f*** off!” among other insults while making obscene gestures at her. Most were men.

The trolling and incitement began before the event, when people like Jerry Daykin (author of, ironically, Inclusive Marketing) tweeted his fury that GB News was a major sponsor of the Roses. “Stop normalising GB News,” he wrote. He was not alone.

I have to ask, when did this industry normalise this type of intimidation and humiliation towards anyone, never mind a woman in a professional setting?
While such behaviour should shame anyone who stands for inclusion and respect, this must not be dismissed as an isolated incident perpetrated by a few bad players.

Rather, it was the physical manifestation of the systemic and institutional intolerance levelled at GB News since before its launch.

Our staff have been abused and trolled; our advertisers threatened, and attempts made to sabotage us. Misinformation and conspiracy theories about us have been spread expertly and determinedly to demonise GB News as a grotesque caricature of something it is not.

Our crime? We tap into mainstream but non-metropolitan viewpoints, audiences who simply aren’t very London in their outlook. In other words, the majority of Britons.

While tolerance and diversity are rightly prized by the advertising industry, these values appear conditional on people agreeing with one singular, fashionable, and very metropolitan world view.

This blinkered outlook risks putting advertisers out of touch with the millions of consumers and customers who love GB News and consume the products your clients want to sell.

We know many in the advertising industry are unnerved by the bullying and cancel culture towards GB News and, vitally, our growing audience. They’ve told us confidentially, but they’re frightened to speak up in case they’re singled out for the same treatment.

We also know that some people in that room at the Roses are supportive of GB News and were upset by the outrageous bullying levelled at our female executive. As organisers, The Drum did its best.

But did anyone call it out at the time, or on social media afterwards? No, they did not. Not because they liked it, but because they feel silenced by the ever-present threat of cancel culture.

Targeting GB News has become the acceptable face of hate. In fact, you get bragging rights for virtue-signalling your contempt towards our channel and therefore, tellingly, your contempt and snobbery for our growing audience – the very consumers advertisers want to reach.

It’s disappointing that the Roses incident happened in Manchester because we find regional agencies far more open and fair-minded to the diversity of opinion that GB News offers.

It’s not surprising that regional agencies are more in tune with the non-metropolitan audiences, and no coincidence that some of our strongest audiences are in the north-west. We based our commercial leadership team in Manchester for a reason.

No one wants to fund hate, least of all me, so GB News is not hateful. I’m struck however by the irony that the most hateful discourse I encounter daily is directed towards us, not by us.

It’s time to call time on intolerance and to accept that not everyone agrees or sees the world in the same way.

In any liberal democracy, plurality of media is an overwhelmingly good thing. Few question that The Express and The Guardian co-exist in our media landscape – they are different voices for different audiences.

GB News is a different voice in British media. We are proudly here for the people, but not necessarily for media people, and that is why audiences are turning to us.”

The broadcaster was a sponsor of the Manchester awards ceremony.

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