SA winery defends British homeless mag deal

2010-07-17 08:32

A South African wine brand yesterday defended its sponsorship of

Britain’s top homelessness magazine after sellers called it a “bad, ironic joke”

that could fuel more alcoholic stereotyping.

Fairhills has signed a £60 000 (R696 000) deal that involves The

Big Issue’s homeless street sellers wearing the wine’s logo on new red


However, some vendors believe the deal is inappropriate as many are

recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

In Bath, southwest England, seller Shane Hayton told the BBC: “We

suffer enough in Bath as it is without stereotyping homeless people as drug

addicts or drinkers, when we’re not. Now we are going to be walking around with

wine adverts which is going to make everybody think we’re alcoholics.”

Homeless Matthew Blackman (40) who sells The Big Issue in nearby

Bristol, said: “It’s disgusting because most of us vendors are either drug

addicts or alcoholics. It’s like some bad, ironic joke.”

Fairhills founder Bernard Fontannaz said by sponsoring the vendors

they were showing support for the treatment of alcohol misuse. He said they were

opening an alcohol treatment centre in South Africa.

Fontannaz said: “We are a wine company which takes responsibility

for alcohol abuse, to do more than put a health warning on the back of our

bottle. We also wanted to contribute in countries where we sell our wines.

“We could have spent £60 000 on an ad in a glossy magazine to

promote our product but what good will it have made to the vendors?”

The Big Issue offers homeless and vulnerable people the opportunity

to earn a legitimate income. Vendors buy copies for 85 pence each and sell them

for £1.70.

A magazine spokesperson said: “There are quite negative stereotypes

attached to homeless people – not just Big Issue vendors – around alcohol.

However, Fairhills is a fair-trade wine company, they work with underprivileged

groups in South Africa and we think their ethos is not contrary to that of The

Big Issue.”


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