Durban not disqualified from Earth Hour Competition

2014-03-26 00:00

DURBAN’S chances of being crowned an Earth Hour champion tomorrow have not been dashed despite mounting criticism against the digital media company that was contracted to run the city’s campaign.

But votes that are deemed “questionable” will not be counted according to the World Wildlife Fund, which is running the We Love Cities Campaign as part of its Earth Hour initiative.

Umhlanga-based Carver Media, which was awarded a 10-day R500 000 contract by the city on the basis that it owned the “I Love Durban” trademark, was expected to promote the city on digital and social media in the We Love Cities Campaign — with the global winner being judged on the amount of social interactions.

But yesterday, The Witness revealed, through the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC), that Carver Media did not own the trademark despite claims by the city and Carver to the contrary.

In the last two weeks, the company has been accused of boosting its online presence for the campaign by creating fake online social media accounts, had grossly overcharged the council, that Carver was in fact deregistered from CIPC as an entity, that they had tapped into family connections within the metropolitan to further their business interests, and that they even used pirated software to create websites. All of this will not count against the city according to Barbara Evaeus, who is heading up the We Love Cities campaign from Sweden.

“We will, however, not include votes that have been submitted in a questionable fashion. The same applies to all cities. Durban has received thousands of legitimate votes and hundreds of suggestions from engaged citizens who really love their city, and that is the spirit that the We Love Cities campaign aims to create and strengthen,” said Evaeus.

She said there are two different types of awards being issued through their sustainable cities project Earth Hour City Challenge.

“The first is awarded to the city selected by our jury of experts who of 14 finalists will choose one Global Earth Hour Capital. The other awards issued through the public facing We Love Cities campaign are based on the people’s choice, where WWF encourages the general public to get involved in showing their support for cities that are making sincere efforts to transition toward a sustainable future. Citizens have been encouraged to express their love for their cities, and to submit suggestions as to how they can become even more sustainable. We’ve received tens of thousands of such suggestions,” said Evaeus.

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