Williams-Woolies deal leaves BDS un-Happy

2015-04-12 15:00

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Grammy Award-winning singer and producer Pharrell Williams will be receiving a letter from BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) SA asking him to boycott Woolworths after he and the retail giant announced a partnership this week.

Williams’ song Happy, from the movie Despicable Me 2, was a smash hit last year.

The campaign will include an exclusive concert by Williams for 5?000 Woolworths customers. He will also get involved with some of the schools that are part of its MySchool programme.

BDS has been calling for a consumer boycott of Woolworths because it sources products and produce valued at R12?million from companies in Israel.

Part of the reason BDS chose Woolworths was because it says the chain sells itself as an “ethical company” that sources responsibly.

“BDS SA will be formally writing to Pharrell Williams requesting that he postpone his Woolworths collaboration until the company divests from Israel.

“We trust Williams will heed our call,” said BDS spokesperson Kwara Kekana.

Woolworths CEO Ian Moir said the attention it was receiving from BDS was a result of his company’s bold branding, which set it apart from its competitors, and it was not afraid of the movement.

He said Williams complemented this branding. “I don’t think we should shy away from the tall poppy syndrome.

“I think you’ve got to keep doing the right thing as a business, and if you get focused on because your values are so high or people hold you in that stead, or people think about you first, then so be it.

“I think the biggest risk you face as a brand is complacency, and I’d rather be held up, criticised and be challenged than get complacent. Whatever BDS or anyone else does, we’ll continue to do the right thing and stick to our principles and values.”

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