SAB slammed over Beer for Africa pack
Brewery giant is forced to backtrack on its marketing strategy
SA BREWERIES’ (SAB) collaboration with Stop Hunger SA Now has caused an outcry from anti-alcohol abuse activists and health professionals – so much so that the brewery giant had to backtrack on its marketing campaign.
SAB together with the non-profit organisation launched a Beers for Africa eight pack which aimed to feed hungry students across the continent. University lecturers along with health professionals have labelled the strategy as “reckless”.
The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) strongly condemned the latest marketing strategy.
“We fully support the fact that big companies have the right to contribute to a good cause but what we are challenging is the fact that they are marketing their beer,” alliance spokesperson Aadielah Maker said.
Maker also said the fact that SAB had increased its beer packs from six to eight was problematic. “What this means is that this makes it more accessible for everyone,” Maker said. The alliance had written to SAB to ask them to stop the marketing strategy.
“They did respond saying that they are not making any money through this, but have received so much exposure through it,” she said.
The partnership started in April with the goal to feed a million students by next year. The Beers for Africa packs feature different type of beers from different African countries.
With every pack sold, Stop Hunger Now SA would receive money to provide three students with a meal. “Hunger is a huge problem in South Africa and nobody can say the project shouldn’t be supported… However it’s cynical to promote it using your product and in fact it’s more cynical to claim that you are relieving hunger by feeding hungry students beer.
“We know that students are among some of the most vulnerable affected by alcohol. We have a huge problem of alcoholism on our campuses,” Professor Leslie London of the Public Health Association of SA said.
London added that for SAB to market a beer to raise money donated to feed the very people using their product which is harmful to them is extremely negative.
SAB said it respected Saapa’s concern regarding the prevalent misuse of alcohol and, in particular, among the youth.
“In terms of the partnership between the company’s pilot project, the Beers for Africa eight pack and Rise Against Hunger (previously Stop Hunger Now SA), it should be noted that the majority of all proceeds received from the sale of the pack went directly to RAH.
“Enough money was raised to provide 200 000 meals for students,” SAB communications director Robyn Chalmers said. In future “SAB will fund RAH directly and delink it from the Beers for Africa pack. The goal of providing a million meals for students every year remains intact”.