UPDATE, 26 MARCH, 21:40: Media24 follows Toyota as it also ends partnership with Afrikaans is Groot
UPDATE, 26 MARCH, 16:00: Toyota is out and MTN still negotiating as Afrikaans is Groot asks its fans for support
Cape Town - MTN on Friday announced that it will cut all ties with Afrikaans is Groot (AIG) due to Steve Hofmeyr’s involvement in the show.
"MTN has been reviewing its bouquet of sponsorships and its association with AIG, which began in 2015. MTN raised its concerns with AIG last month and we have taken the decision to cut all ties with this event. Through its brand and network, MTN seeks to connect South Africans and bring people together and it’s unfortunate that by persisting with Hofmeyr, AIG is no longer helping serve that objective," Mthokozisi Ndlovu, MTN Public Relations Specialist, told Channel24.
Channel24 on Thursday reported that most big-name sponsors were undeterred by Steve Hofmeyr’s involvement in the AIG concert despite backlash online.
Steve, known for his extremely provocative statements about race and right-wing comments, is featured front-and-centre on the poster for the new show which will be taking place over five sold-out performances from 14 to 17 March in Cape Town at GrandWest Casino, as well as in Pretoria at the Sun Arena at Time Square Casino in November and December this year.
In 2014 Steve tweeted: "Sorry to offend but in my books Blacks were the architects of Apartheid. Go figure."
The shocking tweet caused massive uproar and backlash.
In 2015 both Land Rover and Pick n Pay pulled their sponsorship with AIG due to Steve's involvement in the show and his racial comments.
Since then the singer has made a profusion of similar statements which has seen several festivals cutting ties with him and brands distancing themselves from him.
Just last month Steve tweeted a photo of himself with the old South African flag with the caption: "Good rains. Found a waterproof roof. Mooi ne." (Translation: Pretty, right?)
AIG in a statement to Channel24 said it would not be changing its line-up despite the backlash related to Steve’s involvement: “It is not the function of AIG to get involved or comment on the personal or public viewpoints of any artist, including Steve. Those who bought the tickets did it with his participation as part of the offering – each ticket is a contract with the buyer. Therefore, as one of the country’s most popular music stars, Steve is still performing in the concert.”
Other big-name sponsors and partners of the event including Toyota, Huisgenoot, Netwerk24, Beeld, and VIA told Channel24 they are not involved in any of the creative elements of the show. None of the sponsors said they would consider withdrawing their sponsorship based on Steve’s involvement. (See their full statements here)
Several brands listed on the AIG website as sponsors, have said they are not involved in the 2019 concert featuring Steve Hofmeyr at all.
The Afrikaans Sunday newspaper Rapport’s logo appeared on the latest promo material for AIG. Waldimar Pelser, Editor of Rapport, confirmed that the publication is not a sponsor of the show and was not aware of the fact that its logo was being used. On Thursday morning Rapport’s logo was removed from all marketing material.
Spokespersons for both Jacaranda FM and Coca-Cola, whose logos appear on the AIG website, confirmed to Channel24 that they are not sponsors of the 2019 concert featuring Steve Hofmeyr. Their logos, although appearing on the website, was not on the promotional material for the show.
Camilla Osborne, Head of Communication for Coca-Cola in Southern and East Africa, told Channel24: "We can confirm that one of our bottling partners, Coca-Cola Beverages South Africa (CCBSA), entered into an agreement to secure the exclusive pouring rights at an event called 'Alternatief is Groot' taking place at Loftus Stadium back in February. This event has a different line-up and market appeal, and Steve Hofmeyr is not part of this event.
"CCBSA were later approached by the organisers of Afrikaans is Groot and the team declined to get involved with this specific event. We are investigating why our logo is being used on the Afrikaans is Groot website and will be asking the organisers to remove our logo from it."
Johan C Venter, spokesperson for AIG, confirmed this saying the sponsors listed on the website aren’t all involved in the 2019 concert featuring Steve specifically but perhaps other AIG initiatives like Classics is Groot or Alternatief is Groot. He said that AIG would look into clarifying this on their website.
Channel24 is part of 24.com a division of Media24.