3 April 2018 | Sanitarium, the Adventist owner of the internationally popular breakfast cereal, Weet-Bix, has severed its endorsement relationship with scandal-hit Australian national cricket captain Steve Smith, 28, after his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal.
Smith had been named as a so-called ‘Weet-bix Kid’ by the Adventist company in 2015 and was prominently featured in advertising for the cereal product. He was removed after a report by Cricket Australia that stated his awareness of a plan to tamper with the ball used in a competition against the South African national team. The report stated that he failed to stop the plan or report the ball tampering. The practice of tampering is banned because of the unfair advantage it can give the tampering team which can launch balls at higher-than-usual speed at opposing batsmen.
The Australian and South African teams were playing a test match. Test cricket is the longest form of the sport and is played between national teams that have been given “Test status” by the International Cricket Council (ICC). Games can last five days or longer and are regarded as a test of both skill and endurance.
Smith, who has been banned from the sport for a year for his involvement in the scandal, had already been removed from Sanitarium’s website before the company announced the formal end of the endorsement relationship. In a statement, Sanitarium said the cheating went against “brand values of trust and integrity.”
Todd Sanders, Sanitarium Australia’s executive general manager, released a statement saying that: “Based on the ball tampering incident and the findings of Cricket Australia’s investigation, we are unable to continue our relationship with Steve Smith.”
Sanders said that, “Weet-Bix ambassadors represent our brand values of trust and integrity, and they speak to everything that is good about being Australian. Their role as a ‘Weet-Bix Kid’ is to inspire millions of Aussie kids to be the best they can be.”
The Sanitarium Health and Wellbeing Company is the trading name of two Adventist-owned food companies, Australian Health and Nutrition Association Ltd and New Zealand Health Association Ltd. Sanitarium was founded in 1898 and produces a number of vegetarian food products although its flagship product is Weet-bix, a top-selling cereal in both Australia and New Zealand.