Tweet power: How a few well-aimed barbs persuaded brands to ditch Afrikaans Is Groot event
Gauteng education MEC Panyaza Lesufi was one of the more prominent voices on social media behind a successful bid to get major sponsors to pull out of the Afrikaans Is Groot event, where musician Steve Hofmeyr was one of the performing artists.
One tweet at a time, Lesufi called out to brands like Coca-Cola, DStv, Toyota and MTN to distance themselves from the event.
A Steve Hofmeyr tweet from 2014 resurfaced on social media late last week, in which the singer claimed black people were the architects of apartheid. Lesufi was quick to react, telling cellphone giant MTN its "sponsorship of this person's (Hofmeyr's)" involvement in the concert was "an insult to peace-loving citizens".
Dear @MTNza, your sponsorship of this person’s performance is an insult to all peace loving South Africans. If he performs at Afrikaans is Big concert then withdraw your sponsorship. We are not against AIB but against the insults of the so called singer! https://t.co/H1xCYsb21K— Panyaza Lesufi (@Lesufi) March 14, 2019
Shortly after, the service provider responded to his tweet, saying they had made a decision to cut ties with the event. Along with other members of the public, the education MEC then tweeted other brands, urging them to take similar action.
We have taken the decision to cut all ties with the AIG event. Through its brand and network, MTN seeks to connect South Africans and bring people together. As such, we cannot sponsor an event that in any way contradicts our objectives. Read more: https://t.co/d4OrfFBhhj— MTN South Africa (@MTNza) March 15, 2019
Channel 24 spoke to many of the sponsors of the event including MTN, Coca-Cola and Toyota. Toyota did not commit to withdrawing its sponsorship, but instead said the creative process of the events they sponsor is not part of the contractual agreement.
Coca-Cola did not respond directly to Lesufi, but he took to Twitter to share their response to the publication.
TimesLIVE reached out to Hofmeyr's management to get his comment on the matter, but they had not responded at the time of publication.