Sponsors of Channel Seven’s Sunrise – including Jetstar, Accor Hotels, Myer and The Coffee Club – have been deluged by emails of abuse this week after Sunrise unveiled its support for a gay-marriage campaign.
The Australian Christian Lobby immediately called on its supporters to write to Sunrise and its sponsors to complain about the show’s involvement in the joint ‘I Do’ campaign with Marie Claire magazine and GetUp!
‘That a TV current affairs show, let alone TV station, should take sides in such a highly contentious issue in the public square is disgraceful. What it says for the respect they have for alternative opinion, even our values, is extremely disappointing and we need to register our disappointment.
‘… Also, please consider sending an email to Sunrise’s partners sharing your concerns about the television show. They include Purina, The Coffee Club, Accor Hotels, Myer and Jetstar.’
ACL’s press release included links to the ‘contact us’ section of each company’s website. Here’s an example of emails Sunrise sponsors immediately began receiving, many of which were directed specifically to Sunrise:
I am disgusted that Sunrise has joined with GetUp! And Marie Claire magazine to promote same-sex marriage. How can a current affairs show, who are supposed to be unbiased, take an active role in promoting same-sex marriage.
This stance shows a blatant disrespect and intolerance to my views (a viewer of your program for years) and attacks my values, the institute [sic] of marriage and family and violates children’s rights.
Why has Sunrise decided that this is a human rights issue? The Australian government has removed discrimination in 84 laws in 2008 and the European Court of Human Rights ruled in March that saem-sex [sic] marriage is not a human right.
I am so disgusted and fed up with Sunrise and its blatant propaganda and support of the gay lobby.
I will no longer watch Sunrise as a result of this and I will also be notifying your partners, The Coffee Club, Myer, Jetstar, Accor Hotels and Purina about my concerns with your program.
Others were aimed more at sponsors. ‘As a partner of Sunrise I thought it important to share my disgust with you over their bias support of the same-s-x marriage debate,’ read one.
Another wrote: ‘I will endeavour to select Virgin Blue flights instead of Jestar[sic]/Qantas in the future. I am a frequent flyer card holder along with another 1000 Leighton staff who [sic] I work for, and I will be encouraging other employees to choose alternatives to Jetstar where possible if Jestar [sic] continue to support gay marriage on Sunrise.’
A Jetstar spokesperson told Crikey the company has no plans to alter its sponsorship agreement with Sunrise following the fracas.
Other Sunrise sponsors echoed the sentiments. ‘It certainly doesn’t change our opinion [of Sunrise] whatsoever,’ Peter Hook, a spokesperson for Accor Hotels, told Crikey. ‘Every media outlet should feel free to discuss these issues.’
Hook estimated more than a dozen ‘obviously standardised emails’ of complaint had been received, but ‘last time I heard there was over 30 that had come in just saying ‘we believe that this issue should be spoken on media and we support that fact that you support Sunrise’.
GetUp! encouraged its activist members to send messages of support to sponsors in response to ACL’s call-to-arms.
Jo Lynch, general manager of corporate affairs at Myer, says the retail giant had been ‘receiving both complaints and support’ about Sunrise’s stance, but Myer is ‘more than likely’ to continue to support the show.
A spokesperson for The Coffee Club notes they are ‘aware of the issues’ and emails have been received but the company didn’t want to be drawn into the debate. ‘As responsible corporate citizens, The Coffee Club doesn’t discriminate against anyone and wants to offer a warm welcoming relaxed place for everyone,’ said the spokesperson.
Although Purina, a pet-care brand and subsidiary of Nestlé, was noted in the ACL and GetUp! press releases, it isn’t a sponsor of Sunrise. Instead the company is currently running a promotion with Woolworths, which does sponsor the program.
‘We’ve received a couple of emails and complaints and some praising us for our stance,’ said Fran Hernon, corporate affairs manager for Nestlé. ‘While we appreciate the sentiments, it’s not actually something we are involved with.’ Hernon also notes a lot of the emails being aimed at Purina have been instead sent to Nestlé’s headquarters in Switzerland.
More than 38,000 people have signed GetUp!’s ‘Thank you’ card to Sunrise and Marie Claire.