Billboard companies have refused to put up advertisements showing President Jacob Zuma and a woman with the pay-off line: “Even polygamists need to cheat”.
The advert for international dating website for married people, Ashley Madison, would have formed part of a year-long R8 million SA advertising campaign.
The company launched in SA last month amid some controversy, and the removal of another billboard featuring the wife of the company’s founder following numerous complaints.
Zuma has four wives and his polygamist lifestyle is much debated and criticised.
Company founder Noel Biderman said they had approached nine billboard companies across the country to erect the billboard featuring Zuma and a blonde woman pressed up intimately against him, and each one refused.
The boards would have been up in major cities for four weeks. It would have been followed by pictures of other prominent SA politicians linked to infidelity.
Biderman says their right to freedom of expression has been infringed upon.
Some of the billboard companies declined Biderman’s business, following The Spear artwork debacle. “We were told that there had been a previous art exhibit that had utilised the president’s image and there had been vandalism and even threats and so there seemed to be concern around some form of retribution.
“Some companies had just felt that while the country needs and fosters open discourse, that this messaging was not positive or helpful, and so, from a social-political perspective, they did not want to support it.”
Biderman said they never accept “no” and were already hard at work developing a new outdoor creative concept and continuing with their TV campaigns.
Similar campaigns were rolled out in a number of other countries, including the US and the UK.
“There is a sense that the placement of this type of controversial billboard cannot occur on South African soil.”
Zuma would have been the first of a number of local politicians featured on the billboards.
Biderman said they were “beyond disappointed”.
“We truthfully believe that President Zuma’s polygamy is not only fair ground for commentary, but if South Africa now starts moving in a direction of preventing open dialogue and censors legal businesses from progressing, well that is a very slippery slope,” Biderman said.
Biderman appears to be courting controversy. Last month, his SA-born wife Amanda appeared on a billboard at Joburg’s Nelson Mandela Square, which said: “Your wife is hot but ours are hotter”.
Following numerous complaints the billboard was removed within a matter of days.