Companies pull rodeo sponsorship
Supermarket giant Foodstuffs is the latest large company to cancel its sponsorship of rodeos amid calls to band the controversial sport.
Foodstuffs, a co-operative that owns the Pak’n Save and New World supermarket brands, is following many companies, including LJ Hooker New Zealand, Saddlery Warehouse, Stuff, Meridian Energy, House of Travel, Bayleys, and Harcourts, that have withdrawn sponsorship in the wake of animal cruelty claims by advocacy groups.
Animal welfare group Safe’s campaigns director, Mandy Carter, said businesses no longer wanted to be aligned with the bullying of animals ‘‘for the fun of these pseudo cowboys’’.
‘‘When they learn of the cruelty involved in rodeo, we’ve found many sponsors dropping their involvement,’’ Carter said.
‘‘We congratulate those companies who have turned their back on rodeo, and encourage the few remaining sponsors to follow this compassionate lead and instead support positive community events.’’
New Zealand Rodeo and Cowboys Association spokesman Michael Laws said rodeo sponsors had been bullied and harassed by animal activists.
‘‘That’s unfortunate, but our sponsors have been exceptional in disregarding such.’’
Laws said he had not noticed a ‘‘significant decline in sponsorship’’ this season.
‘‘We have noted that a couple have withdrawn but that would be part and parcel of any organisation. I’m only aware of two withdrawals this season, and one [Lions NZ] wasn’t a sponsor but a voluntary organisation, and yet local Lions chapters have continued to assist local rodeo clubs this season.’’
Laws would not provide a list of current sponsors as ‘‘that would be inviting mischief’’, he said.
However, according to Safe, a number of large companies still sponsor some rodeo events, including Fulton Hogan.
When asked about the company’s involvement, a Fulton Hogan spokeswoman said: ‘‘Our position on this is that we are declining to comment.’’ She did not confirm, nor deny, the company still sponsored rodeo events.
Foodstuffs spokeswoman Antoinette Laird said ‘‘a couple’’ of owner-operated stores that supported rodeos were no longer doing so.
‘‘The business made a decision some time ago that this was not the right type of sponsorship opportunity for our brands.’’
Laird would not say which stores sponsored the events, for how long, or when the decision was made to cancel the sponsorship.
Petrol company Z Energy has also pulled its support for rodeos.
A Z service station that did support a local rodeo last year was asked to stop any sort of support for rodeo, a spokeswoman said.
‘‘This situation made us realise we needed to provide clearer guidelines around what we expect our retailers to use either Z’s money or their own funds under the Z brand to support,’’ she said.
As a result, the company made it clear to all service stations that sponsoring rodeo was ‘‘not acceptable’’, she said.
‘‘Z has strong values around animal rights and rodeo doesn’t align with these.
‘‘[It] is not something we support as a company.’’
Stuff spokeswoman Phillipa Cameron said the media company had sponsored rodeo events in the past, but no longer did so.
‘‘Recently, we identified our logo had been used on a rodeo event. This occurred as a result of internal processes not being followed.’’