UK lawmakers criticise Amazon.com’s ‘Webminster’ tube ad campaign


  • TECH
  • Friday, 13 Jan 2017

A tube train passes a sign reading 'Webminster' after Amazon rebranded Westminster tube station as a marketing stunt in central London, Britain January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON: Some UK lawmakers criticised an advertising campaign by Amazon.com Inc on Jan 12 which involved changing the name signs at London's Westminster underground station, where parliament is located, to 'Webminster', branding it "insulting". 

Amazon paid underground operator Transport for London (TfL) £390,000 (RM2.11mil) to change the signage at the station underneath the Houses of Parliament to publicise their cloud computing business.

Commuters walk under a tube sign reading 'Webminster' after Amazon rebranded Westminster tube station as a marketing stunt in central London, Britain January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Commuters walk under a tube sign reading 'Webminster' after Amazon rebranded Westminster tube station as a marketing stunt in central London. — Reuters

Members of Parliament (MPs) said the campaign was in poor taste and was inappropriate given lawmakers' frequent criticism of the company's tax affairs. 

"They are undermining the word 'Westminster'," said Nick Smith, MP with the opposition Labour party. 

"I think that Amazon is being a bit cheeky here," he added. 

Amazon declined to comment. TfL said it adhered to advertising standards rules.

Commuter sit next to a tube sign reading 'Webminster' after Amazon rebranded Westminster tube station as a marketing stunt in central London, Britain January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Although some MPs derided Amazon's latest publicity stunt, others spoke up in the company's defence, saying any revenue from advertising that can be used for important maintenance and upgrading works means less money out of taxpayers' pockets. — Reuters

Labour MP Margaret Hodge who, as head of the Public Accounts Committee in 2012, investigated Amazon’s tax minimisation strategies, said the one-day campaign was "insulting" to parliament. 

"Amazon should use its profits to pay taxes, not pay for an advertising campaign designed to give them the cloak of respectability they do not deserve," she said. 

However, Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince said he backed such "publicity stunts" as they generated funds for TfL. 

"Every penny that can be raised through these methods is one less penny out of taxpayers' pockets and the money can be used for important investment and upgrade work," he said. — Reuters

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