Financial Times' response to ad-cutting threat from HP is great

Artist’s impression of what they were really thinking

The Financial Times ran a column critical of Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman. The company's marketing chief, Henry Gomez, threatened to cut the advertising it ran in the newspaper. Lucy Kellaway's response is perfect.

My piece was not biased and I fear you misunderstand our business model. It is my editors’ steadfast refusal to consider the impact of stories on advertisers that makes us the decent newspaper we are. It is why I want to go on working here. It is why the FT goes on paying me.

Kellaway seems almost happy to have gotten such a direct threat in the first place, in an age of smarmy PR outreach and cold silence. But it's no surprise that HP is the one to break ranks. When did it get its reputation for this sort of "nice ads you have there" nastiness?

Notable Replies

  1. Ratel says:

    Headline repair:

    Financial Times’ response to ad-cutting threat from HP is a bit mild and passive-aggressive, but otherwise okay

    It is, of course, possible that you aren’t to blame for any of this, and the order came from on high. I want to think well of Ms Whitman. I adore eBay, which she made great. She may have said something daft at Davos — and, as I pointed out in my column, she was in very good company there — so I don’t want to believe she told you to write to me. Please tell me it isn’t so.

    Phew! Strong stuff.

  2. Since Murdoch acquired the WSJ, where else can the Anglophone reader go for reliable information? The FT's reputation is worth more than HP's.

  3. This happens all the time.

    Clay Shirky is particularly fond of the time Ford tried to pressure the NY times over reporting on unsafe cares (Pintos blowing up when rear ended, if memory serves).

    Sadly, newspapers are less and less able to resist this pressure, to the point that even a 2nd tier advertiser like HP thinks it is worth trying.

  4. Aw, c'mon. This is Hewlett Packard. They can do better.

    Like when HP was spying on journalists to find a leak, including examining their phone records and those of their relatives. It wasn't just about spying. It was about putting pressure on reporters to avoid bad press. As Groklaw put it:

    At CNET, for example, none of the three can now cover HP. So is there damage to those journalists' careers? [...] If you are a tech reporter, and now you can't cover a major tech company, are you damaged? Worse, might a cynical corporation wishing to get a good journalist off a story deliberately tail them so as to get the journalist banned from covering them from that point on? After covering SCO, one thinks of everything as being conceivable.

    Pressuring a reporter by simply threatening to pull advertising, is amateurish.

  5. Smeg Whitman wants to be California's Gov, again?

    Plus I will just put this right here!

    It was this many:

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