The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) says that Spar should not have used singer PJ Powers’ name in ads for its TOPS liquor stores.
Powers, a recovering alcoholic, was outraged when she came across the ads and posters for various offers at TOPS featuring the tagline: “Grab a drink and show off those PJ Powers.
Her management filed a complaint with the ASASA, stating that the openly lesbian star had not consumed alcohol for nearly six years and that her battle with alcohol was made public in her biography and shows.
Spar’s ad agency, TBWA Hunt Lascaris, argued that the ad was meant to be light-hearted and that the word PJ was intended to refer to “Pyjamas” for its June them of “Pyjama Party”.
The ASA didn’t buy the explanation and said that it “agrees that the association of her name with advertising for alcoholic beverages… effectively reduces this battle for sobriety to a marketing stunt to gain commercial traction.”
It ruled that “the advertisement appears to be an unjustifiable commercial exploitation of the individual’s fame or reputation…” and is thus in contravention of the Advertising Code of Practice.
The ASASA decided, however, not to impose any sanctions as the ad has already been withdrawn.
The agency also agreed to place a statement explaining that the ad was intended to be a harmless parody, that Powers did not approve the use of her name, and that Spar “applauds and commends” her “public pronouncement about the dangers of alcohol abuse.”
Earlier, Powers wrote on Facebook that while Spar had run an apology on its Facebook page, “they haven’t apologised to me…”
She said that she would wait for the ASASA ruling before deciding if she will take legal action.