NEWS-BITE | Marketing Comms | Celebrity Endorsement: The supermarket chains are under pressure to stop stocking a Polish drinks brand called Black Energy, because of the product’s sponsorship partnership with controversial boxer Mike Tyson.
The marketing tie-up has come under criticism because it includes advertising showing Tyson with a number of scantily clad women under the banner “sexenergy”, while at one point the boxer calls himself an “animal”. Tyson, of course, was convicted of rape in 1992.
Commenting on Black Energy’s Tyson campaign, a spokesman for charity Rape Crisis told reporters: “It is deplorable that supermarkets think it is appropriate to revere the rapist Mike Tyson and put him in a position that implies young people should trust his judgments and buy a drink that he promotes. When he was in that position of trust he raped women abusing any trust that society should have in him”.
Meanwhile the founder of Mumsnet, Justine Roberts, told Marketing: “Lots of Mumsnet users are disappointed that the likes of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s are stocking a product endorsed by convicted rapist Mike Tyson, and would rather that someone who showed little remorse for his behaviour wasn’t given the opportunity to cash in on his notoriety”.
Complaints from British consumers about the controversial ad campaign began last year, but the protests have gained momentum this month. Nevertheless, so far none of the UK supermarket chains seem keen to ban the drink from their stores, with a spokesman for Tesco saying it was a popular product with its Polish customers.
However, it is thought that, under pressure from retailers, Black Energy’s makers have altered packaging for the UK market, playing down the Tyson alliance, though his name is still featured.