Pulling Ads: a defensible public relations strategy?

Is there an appropriate time to pull your company's ads from a publication? How about an entire range of publications? Marks & Sparks has pulled all of its advertising from the UK's Associated Newspapers stable - a relationship worth £2.9m last year - after an apparently inaccurate article in the Mail on Sunday. While the story is two weeks old (Guardian, r.r.), PR Week UK is reporting on the reaction from the public relations and marketing communities.

Pulling advertising is, as a 1989 article in Communications World noted, incredibly stupid. Rather than winning a (suspect) moral victory, companies often end up distorting, if not sabotaging, their media plan and marketing efforts.

After all, how better to follow up a negative article than by pulling all your brand and product promotion - from the publications you personally identified as essential to your business plan?