The news of the fabricated Forbes cover with Sibusiso Leope, holding a can of his energy drink Mofaya stirred a lengthy controversy on social media.
— Sentletse (@Sentletse) March 24, 2015
Lawyers help me: If Forbes Africa cannot prove the *origins* of a fake cover surely in law they can’t accuse Sbu of unlawful creation of it?
— Eusebius McKaiser (@Eusebius) March 24, 2015
However, the angle that captured our interest is the way Mr. Sbusiso Leope has used this as a counter-marketing strategy, its is obvious this is not a schemed approach considering the institutions involved. Recently, MetroFM board suspended Mr. Sbusiso Leope for marketing his drink at the MetroFM Awards. Mr. Leope managed to use the negative and quick broadcast to his advantage by apologising to the board and getting his job back. In that incident alone, almost 12,236,393 tweets surfaced.
Secondly, is the Forbes issue of a fabricated Cover page, which has also been resolved today. A statement with the following extracts was released, “he pending issue of trademark infringement and misrepresentation between Forbes Africa and Mr Leope has attained closure and has been resolved amicably, In terms of the agreement, Leope will remove the image of himself holding a can of his energy drink from all of his social media networks“.
While the magazine acknowledged that Leope did not create the image, it said it was misleading as it didn’t contain a disclaimer.
“Our fundamental contention is the image endorsed by him on social media is the unlicensed use of Forbes Africa’s exclusive intellectual property rights. Further, the image is misleading and represents an affiliation that does not exist and has not been approved by Forbes Africa.”
“Mr Leope has duly acknowledged our concerns and has agreed to take down the image from his social media networks. It is also important to note that Mr Leope has made it clear that it was not his intention to mislead our readers,” the statement read.
In a period of 3 weeks, Mr. Sibusiso Leope has attracted over billions of trending tweets on twitter and created awareness more than any promotional campaign could have achieved.