Friday, December 09, 2005

Now store pulls our chain and wool over their eyes

Hypocrisy watch: Retail outlet Woolworths are continuing to sell the Jerry Springer: The Opera DVD via their online store, based in Jersey.

This is bizarre. They’ve been telling the Christian loonies that they’ve pulled the product after “listening to their customer’s concerns”, but it seems all they’ve done is move it our of sight. Perhaps we can get them to agree to a compromise position. They could sell it from under the counter in a brown paper bag. That way their Christian customers won’t be offended.

Their website couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the product. It gushes:

“The Opera is the smash-hit multi-award winning musical, which opened to unprecedented rave reviews and standing ovations at the National Theatre. The Opera is the smash-hit multi-award winning musical, which opened to unprecedented rave reviews and standing ovations at the National Theatre.”

Principle is one thing, but turning down a sale is quite another. Instead of the bland PR-speak letters they were sending out yesterday (see previous post), today the company has a more canny approach. They’re telling customers who complain not to worry, Woolworths is still selling it – but on the quiet.

Dear Sir / Madam

Woolworths is guided by legislation and regulatory bodies on what it can and cannot sell in its stores. Our decisions to sell products are based on customer demand. The product is not currently available in stores, however should a customer wish to purchase it, it is available from our website -



I wonder if this will be good enough for Stephen Green.


But Stephen, it gets worse. Sainsbury’s are selling the book and the soundtrack too. If they won't sell you the DVD, they will rent it to you. So all in all, this gesture could be called “window undressing”.

You didn’t really think you were going to get a principled response from a retail chain, did you?

Meanwhile, actors union Equity has added a welcome voice to the fray. In a statement, they said:


You may have read in the press that both Sainsbury's and Woolworths have withdrawn from sale DVDs of Jerry Springer - The Opera after receiving complaints from the public. This is the same production of Jerry Springer - The Opera which was subject to protests when the BBC screened it.

When Equity approached the two companies, Sainsbury's press office said that they had received around 20 complaints but Woolworths would not reveal the number of complaints it had received other than to say it was "substantial".

Equity is very concerned about the action of the two companies and General Secretary Christine Payne has issued the following statement"Equity is opposed to the action which Woolworths and Sainsbury's have taken on two grounds. Firstly, Equity strongly supports artistic freedom and equally strong opposes censorship in all its forms, however offended any individual may feel themselves to be by a particular piece of dramatic art.

'Secondly, Equity members derive income from the sales of recorded material, including DVDs, and so stand to lose income from actions such as these."Equity is inviting all of its members to make their views known to Sainsbury's and Woolworths about these acts of censorship."

If you wish to contact Sainsbury's with your views you can visit
and complete an e-mailable form or call their general enquiry line on 0800 636 262.If you wish to contact Woolworths you can send an e-mail to or call the company's headquarters on 020
7262 1222.

Thank you.

Best wishes

Martin Brown Equity Campaigns, Press and PR Officer


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