South African entertainment legend PJ Powers is outraged that retailer Spar used her name in ads for its TOPS liquor stores without her permission.
The ads for various offers at TOPS feature the tagline: “Grab a drink and show off those PJ Powers.”
The openly-lesbian star, who has recounted her struggles with alcohol in her recent biography, Here I Am, and one-woman shows, says that linking her to an alcohol brand is particularly inappropriate.
Writing on Powers’ Facebook page on Monday, manager Yvonne Johnston, stated: “As many of you know PJ is a recovered alcoholic. She has not drunk for five and a half years. She has made her alcoholism public because that is who she is – she is a transparent and authentic person which has shared the ups and downs of her life.
“The Spar chain owns TOPS liquor stores. They have been running ads such as the ones below for the last few weeks, without getting approval from PJ. They think this is OK. We don’t. We especially don’t because they are liquor ads and alcoholism nearly killed her. PJ is deeply offended and upset by these ads,” said Johnston.
Social media users rallied around the singer, slamming the retailer for its thoughtless advertising.
Author Marianne Thamm tweeted that the campaign is “lazy and opportunistic advertising. Shameful.”
Some fans even called for a boycott of TOPS liquor stores.
Spar has since responded on Facebook, saying that it “would like to apologise to those who were offended by our message.”
The company explained that, “The line was used as a play on words to refer to the Pyjama Party theme for the month of June. The theme is linked to the message from our Minister of Parties and Recreation: ‘No slumber, only party!’ We never intended to offend anyone and sincerely apologise.”
The apology was generally not seen as convincing. Cathy Heaton tweeted: “The ‘play on words’ excuse absolutely pathetic @TOPSatSPAR you owe @PJPowers1 & every person fighting everyday to remain sober an apology!”
Spar does not appear to have yet apologised directly to Powers, who earlier told Radio 702 that she was looking at her legal options.