Gary Lineker, the face of Walkers crisps, has urged the company to stop advertising in The Sun after the newspaper ran controversial front pages about the refugee crisis and attacked him for speaking out on the issue.
The BBC presenter, who has fronted Walkers’ adverts for 21 years, this week gave his backing to a campaign to persuade companies not to advertise in newspapers that are responsible for “divisive hate campaigns”.
And, when asked by a Daily Mail journalist whether he would be speaking to Walkers about withdrawing its adverts, he replied: “[I] already have.”
People would have to “wait and see” the outcome of the discussions, he added.
However, a Walkers spokesperson suggested the company was unlikely to agree to Lineker’s request.
They said: “We have a very successful partnership with Gary Lineker and we will continue to do so. Our advertising approach is not determined by the editorial stances of individual newspapers.”
The former England striker caused a stir last month after tweeting his anger at people questioning the age of child refugees entering Britain from Calais. The Sun and Daily Mail had openly questioned whether the migrants qualified as children.
Lineker wrote: “The treatment by some towards these young refugees is hideously racist and utterly heartless. What’s happening to our country?”
The Sun responded by labelling Lineker a “jug-eared leftie luvvie” and calling for the BBC to sack him.
Lineker dismissed the criticism, saying: “‘Getting a bit of a spanking today, but things could be worse – Imagine, just for a second, being a refugee having to flee from your home.”
The Stop Funding Hate campaign is calling on companies including John Lewis, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose to pull its Christmas adverts from what it calls the “anti-migrant press”.
It said: “Christmas is a time that we celebrate timeless human values – love and generosity, family, friendship, kindness and compassion.
“It’s also a time that the big retailers – like John Lewis and Sainsbury’s – invest millions in TV advertising campaigns, tapping into these values to reinforce their place in our national psyche.
“But as Christmas approaches there’s another story that deserves consideration. Because when the tinsel comes down, John Lewis, Sainsburys, and other retailers spend their Christmas profits advertising in newspapers whose values are the antithesis of ‘peace on earth and goodwill to all’.”
The campaign’s latest video, focusing on Christmas adverts being placed in right-ring newspapers, has been shared 15,000 times on Twitter.