Bowing to mounting public pressure, the promoters of a scheduled concert here by US pop star Kelly Clarkson have parted ways with a controversial tobacco company sponsor.
Promoter Adrie Subono told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that the concert by the original American Idol would be held in Jakarta on April 29 as scheduled, but will no longer be sponsored by tobacco company PT Djarum’s LA Lights cigarettes.
“The show must go on without its main sponsor,” he said, without clarifying whether the promoter had dropped the tobacco company or the company had pulled its sponsorship.
Adrie said everything related to LA Lights would be removed from advertising billboards and concert paraphernalia. However, he refused to disclose how much it would cost the promotion company, JAVA Musikindo. By Thursday, the billboards promoting the concert with the LA Lights logo hovering over the portrait of the singer had disappeared.
“This is JAVA’s commitment to Clarkson and her fans,” Adrie said.
The decision came after anti-smoking activists decried the sponsorship, saying it was akin to Clarkson being a spokeswoman for the tobacco industry and helping them to market to children. Her Facebook account had been flooded with calls from her fans for her to ditch the sponsorship to show her opposition to smoking.
On her blog, Clarkson said she had no idea LA Lights was sponsoring her Jakarta concert.
“I was not made aware of this and am in no way an advocate or an ambassador for youth smoking,” she wrote. “I’m not even a smoker, nor have I ever been.”
She continued, “I think the hardest part of situations like this is getting personally attacked for something I was completely unaware of and being used as some kind of political pawn.”
On Clarkson’s Facebook page, fans welcomed the decision to ditch the sponsorship. One fan created becauseofyoukelly.com, a Web page where fans could leave messages of support for Clarkson’s move.
“Kelly is a role model for millions of young people, so this sponsorship is sending the wrong message,” the page reads.
Religious groups and anti-tobacco activists had protested against the sponsorship, which included the cigarette brand’s logo adorning billboards featuring the Grammy Award-winning singer.
Yunahar Ilyas, who heads the fatwa body of Muhammadiyah, the country’s second-largest Islamic group with about 30 million members, said he supported the move to end the sponsorship.
“Advertisements for tobacco very easily lure people” to smoke, he said, adding that Muhammadiyah had suggested, through its health council, for tobacco sponsorship to be completely removed from all kinds of shows.
Seto Mulyadi, chairman of the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), said the group welcomed the decision.
“Hopefully other promoters will follow, and not just for music events,” Seto said.
Two years ago, an affiliate of US-based Philip Morris International, which dominates Indonesia’s tobacco market, removed its logo from ads promoting an Alicia Keys concert in Jakarta after the singer publicly denounced the sponsorship and apologized to her fans.
World Health Organization statistics show that in Indonesia almost 70 percent of men older than 20 smoke and the number of young smokers between 15 and 19 years old was rising annually.