LONDON (Reuters) - Some UK lawmakers criticized an advertising campaign by Amazon.com Inc on Thursday 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 pounds to change the signage at the station underneath the Houses of Parliament to publicise their cloud computing business.
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.
Labour MP Margaret Hodge who, as head of the Public Accounts Committee in 2012, investigated Amazon’s tax minimization 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.
Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Alexandra Hudson