the fallout continues from woolies’ mega Anzac promo fail yesterday with news the grocer has narrowly missed being smacked with a $50,000 fine for not getting the correct permission to use the famed wartime acronym.
There is also conflicting reports today whether Woolworths chief marketing officer, Tony Phillips, even knew of, let alone approved, the ill-fated campaign produced by Melbourne agency Carrspace.
However, the minister for veteran affairs, Michael Ronaldson, was quick to remind brands not to meddle with or misuse the Anzac name and that they too risked large fines for doing so.
“The Australian community quite rightly expects that the word Anzac is not trivialised or used inappropriately and as Minister for Veterans Affairs I am responsible for ensuring that any use of the word Anzac does not provide commercial benefit to an organisation,” Mr Ronaldson said.
“While I acknowledge that Woolworths moved quickly to address the situation, I hope this is a reminder to others that the regulations are in place for good reason and that they will be rigorously enforced.”
The campaign encouraged people upload stories and change their social media profile pictures to loved ones affected by or lost to war. The image was then branded with the Woolworth’s logo and the phrase “Lest we forget 1915-2015. Fresh in our memories”- a reference to the Woolworth’s “fresh food people” slogan.
The campaign was crucified by people on Twitter and Facebook last night. The meme generator has been taken down, but here are some the #brandzacday and #freshinourmemories tweets and responses:
— Discombobulate (@Discombobul8) April 14, 2015
— Peter Whish-Wilson (@SenatorSurfer) April 14, 2015
— Samuel Webster (@wiredjazz) April 14, 2015
How to avoid a #brandzacday disaster? Don't use ANZAC Day as a marketing opportunity. Bloody brands, never learn.
— Sophie King (@King_Soph) April 14, 2015
— Tony C (@tamesapien) April 14, 2015
Its just one marketing push after another. The real meaning of any event is lost in having to 'shop' than 'remember #BrandzacDay
— Mark Brennan (@mbhowareya7) April 15, 2015
— JP O'Brien (@pushcomesto) April 14, 2015
— Nick (@kypros1992) April 14, 2015
But not everybody was quick to crucify the grocer. Siimon Reynolds, advertising heavyweight, told News Corp: “I think Woolies and the agency have been really unfairly treated. Woolworths doesn’t need to increase its brand status, and I’d imagine the only reason they did it was out of respect for the Anzacs. Their mistake was using a bit of cleverness in the headline, and that was a mistake, but you’ve got to look at the intention.”
Woolworths took to Facebook to apologise for the campaign saying: “We regret that our branding on the picture generator has caused offence, this was clearly never our intention. Like many heritage Australian companies, we were marking our respect for ANZAC and our veterans.”
McCann worldwide chairman Ben Lilley told Fairfax Media that: “Woolworth’s have tried to do something different and in this instance it hasn’t worked for them, but other large corporates have taken similar calculated risks and it’s paid off handsomely by engaging with their target audience.”
Adam Ferrier, global chief strategy officer of Cummins&Partners, told News Corp that “my thoughts are that people love to get outraged at the moment and any excuse they can find to get outraged they will.”