Jared Leto's band 30 Seconds To Mars just got a coveted nomination for a Teen Choice Award. Good Charlotte lead singer Joel Madden is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and has his own children's foundation. Neon Trees are staunchly anti-tobacco. Ed Kowalczyk is a supporter of World Vision. So why are they playing an Indonesian music festival designed to get children hooked on tobacco? The artists have ignored more than 2000 people who have urged them to dump the sponorship...but it's not too late to do something. Ask them to donate their fee to an Indonesian foundation to help kids with cancer!
Indonesia’s largest and highest profile music event Java Rockin’ Land will be held at Jakarta’s Ancol Beach from 22 to 24 July 2011. Sponsored by cigarette company Gudang Garam, the line-up includes Neon Trees, 30 Seconds to Mars, Good Charlotte and Ed Kowalczyk (USA), The Cranberries (Ireland), Happy Mondays and Blood Red Shoes (UK), Franco (Philippines) and The Dirt Radicals (Australia).
Cigarettes kill more people worldwide than alcohol, AIDS, car accidents, illegal drugs, murders and suicides combined. Indonesia has over 70 million smokers, and smoking kills 200,000 Indonesians every year – tens of thousands more than were killed in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Many of the artists performing at Java Rockin’ Land have given their support to relief for victims of natural disasters, support for critically ill children and children living in poverty, efforts to fight cancer and AIDS, and environmental causes.
Yet by performing at a tobacco-sponsored festival in Indonesia they will be helping to sell cigarettes to young people – a product that leads to death, disability and hardship, in addition to causing environmental damage. These bands would not be allowed to perform under tobacco sponsorship in their own countries.
Most governments recognize the deadly effectiveness of such advertising in enticing young people to smoke and have banned it. Not Indonesia. It is one of the few countries in the world that has not signed the WHO's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Awareness of the dangers of smoking is low, and cigarette companies have an open playing field when it comes to marketing, advertising and sponsorship - even handing out free samples at events.
The musicians at this event will essentially become brand ambassadors for the cigarette company. There’s a reason why tobacco industry shells out millions of dollars for this type of sponsorship – it works.
Musicians do have the ability to stand up to the tobacco industry's marketing tactics. In February 2011, Maroon 5 instructed promoters to cease the use of a cigarette brand in the promotion of their Jakarta concert. In April 2010, former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson removed tobacco advertising and sponsorship from her Jakarta concert. Similarly, Alicia Keys refused to play her 2008 Indonesian tour unless sponsorship and marketing from Phillip Morris’ Sampoerna brand was halted.