Family values defender Errol Naidoo said today he was launching a national boycott of Beechies products in protest over Beechies advertising that “glamourises the sexual exploitation of women, drunkenness and debauchery”.
In a letter sent yesterday to Beechies chewing gum distributors Natela Importers, Family Policy Institute (FPI) director Naidoo, asked the company to cancel its television advertising campaign and to remove offensive items from its website. He said if Beechies did not respond within five days he would launch a boycott campaign.
After receiving a reply from Natela managing director Vered Mann, defending the Beechies campaign, Naidoo told Gateway News:”I will go ahead with a national boycott of all Beechies products.”
Earlier this week Africa Christian Action and the FPI complained about Beechies advertising campaigns which include a TV ad featuring young men at a strip club, and content on the Beechies website which suggests that drunkenness and casual sex is funny and cool.
In his letter to Natella Importers, Naidoo said: “South Africa has some of the world’s highest statistics of sexual abuse of women & children including spiraling rates of drunkenness amongst our youth. The Beechies ad campaign adds fuel to the fire by glamorizing behaviour that is currently decimating South African society.”
In his reply to Naidoo, Mann said Beechies targeted young adults who had an active social life which they shared with others on Facebook, twitter and websites. “Through these experiences they create self validation and give themselves a ‘hero status’. It is this insight that forms the basis of our campaign — for young adults to share these experiences with Beechies.” He said his company had received 4 000 such stories from young adults.
He said the TV ad featuring a strip club was screened after 8pm at which time children watching TV would be supervised by an adult. He said Beechies would continue to screen the ads “but the programmes and time slots selected will be more aligned to the commercial”.
“We believe the commercial is tastefully excecuted and does not contain inappropriate depictions of sexuality. It should not be deemed as offensive. The depiction of stripping is not a general depiction of women as a whole.”
Mann said the Beechies brand had a proud history in South Africa and its advertising had always created talkability as the brand lent itself to edgy executions. “It is targeted mainly at the youth market who appreciate pushing boundaries.”
Gateway News asked Natela Importers whether in planning their advertising campaign they had given any thought to the rampant social evils such as HIV Aids, sexual abuse and exploitation of women, alcoholism and divorce. We also asked them whether in hindsight they did not agree that they were being irresponsible by displaying content on their website which portrays drunkenness and casual sex as funny and admirable. Marketing manager Richard Papo said Gateway News should refer its concerns to the Advertising Standards Association. He said Beechies was making a formal response to ASA today.
Gateway News has sent questions to the ASA and is awaiting a response.