May 24, 2013

Vodafone hang-ups: radio stations pull ads on class action

Several radio stations have yanked advertising spots blasting the network failures of regular advertiser and corporate partner Vodafone.

Andrew Crook — Former <em>Crikey</em> Senior Journalist

Andrew Crook

Former Crikey Senior Journalist

Sydney's highest-rating radio station has yanked from the air an advertisement for a looming class action seeking tens of millions in compensation for Vodafone's infamous network failures in 2011 and 2010. Last week, Harbour City commercial music kings 2DayFM, owned by Southern Cross Austereo, pulled several spots placed on behalf of litigation funder LCM who say they were returned their total ad spend as a result of the decision. The ads feature a deep baritone voice describing serious incidents allegedly caused by the Vodafone outages, including a mother, Amanda, who wasn't able to contact her child's day care centre from a major airport to say her flight had been delayed and a nurse who was told her phone's poor reception was her "mindset". The spots also ran in the Sydney basin on the Lachlan Murdoch-controlled Nova and on stations owned by the middlebrow Australian Radio Network, Mix and WSFM. They remain only on AM station 2GB. Vodafone has been a regular advertiser and corporate partner of all three FM companies. A spokesperson for LCM told Crikey today the situation was "extraordinary". "These radio stations are stopping our client alerting Vodafone customers to the fact that there is an avenue for them to seek compensation," the spokesperson said. LCM has launched a website,, and recently ran a full-page ad accusing Vodafone of misleading its customers in the high-circulation Sunday Telegraph (which was watered down before publication by News Limited). Registrations for the class action, run by prominent lawyers Piper Alderman, close next week.

The 2011 outages inspired a huge protest on social media culminating in this famous YouTube "Vodafail" clip lampooning the network's "two-bar" coverage ("it's not like I'm out in the sticks/I live in Prahran"). The UK-based multinational continues to shed customers, hiving off an estimated 200,000 Australian subscribers in the first three months of this year. About 1 million are said to have upped sticks since the network problems, which have gradually been rectified, began three years ago. A spokesperson for Southern Cross Austereo told Crikey this morning the ads were pulled because they "weren't quite on brand ... They weren't the right tone for the station". The spokesperson said it was believed Vodafone was a current 2Day advertiser. ARN confirmed it had accepted a campaign for the class action on WSFM and MiX but that it had "ran its full course". A spokesperson for Vodafone, Karina Keisler, said Vodafone had "no contact" with the networks over the LCM ads:
"It's an opportunistic advertising campaign, we're not letting it distract us. Our business is considerably different today, and we're focusing on continuing to meet our customer needs."
LCM and its director Patrick Maloney have received increasing publicity of late. However, Australian legal affairs editor Chris Merritt strangely failed to mention the Vodafone ads being pulled in his profile of LCM published in today's paper.

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8 thoughts on “Vodafone hang-ups: radio stations pull ads on class action

  1. frey

    Oh well,

    At least Crikey gave them their free advertising – and see how many of the MSM follow.

    Cheaper than full page ads in the dailys.

  2. frey


    The leader stated “The ads you won’t see supporting the Vodafone class action”.

    Well, they were meant to be on Radio…I don’t ‘see’ meany ads on radio…

  3. Pusscat

    Bizarrely, I actually find myself barracking for the lawyers’ side on this one.
    Definitely must stop reading so much Crikey.

  4. Gerry Hatrick, OAP

    Someone named Murdoch manipulating public opinion? What a shock!

  5. Andybob

    Doesn’t seem to be regulated. Should it be ? Probably not. Should it be publicised ? Yesiree and thankyou Crikey.

  6. klewso

    “Cash for no comment”?

  7. AR

    I live in the Blue Mountains, 125kms from the Sydney CBD and my Vodafone works intermittently depending on weather conditions – too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet, too dark… )and, reception differs between my front gate, living room and rear fence, bearable in Summer but no fun at present.

  8. Ian

    Channel 7(I think) pulled Greenpeace’s ad against Coca Cola’s efforts to prevent a container deposit scheme going ahead in Australia. This is censorship.

    There is no free corporate press in this country and that means little real democracy.

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