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, time2repay.com.au
, 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.