Global advertising conference halts SA launch over xenophobia fears

An EFF member holding up a poster against xenophobia walks through Alexandra. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)
An EFF member holding up a poster against xenophobia walks through Alexandra. (Thomas Hartleb, News24)

International media, marketing and advertising conference Advertising Week has postponed its inaugural African edition to 2020 due to concerns about xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Earlier in September Gauteng was rocked by violence that left at least 12 people dead, as foreign-owned shops were looted, and vehicles and property destroyed. According to police, close to 700 people were arrested.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised for the violence, including at a memorial service for Zimbabwe's former President Robert Mugabe. 

Advertising Week Africa was set to take place from October 28 to 31 in Johannesburg. The other editions of the event take place in the US, UK, Japan, Mexico and Australia.

Advertising Week Africa is now set to take place in the first half of 2020, with the new date to be confirmed, organisers Stillwell Partners said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Advertising Week – the world’s largest annual gathering of advertising, creative, entertainment, marketing, media and technology industry leaders – has shifted its maiden Africa edition to 2020," the statement said.

"The date change comes after a joint decision by the event’s Africa-based Advisory Council and other local and international stakeholders, following unrest in South Africa and the resulting reprisal attacks across several African countries."

Stillwell said the commitment to launching Advertising Week Africa was "only stronger" despite the postponement, and several events that had been planned for the lead-up to Advertising Week Africa elsewhere would go ahead as planned. These include a gala reception honouring the 20th anniversary of the Nelson Mandela Foundation in New York on 25 September, as part of Advertising Week in New York.

South Africa House on Trafalgar Square would also host a Road to Advertising Week Africa Leadership Reception during Advertising Week Europe, the statement said.  

Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe

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