Monday, 24 April 2017

Fresh in Our Memories

Happy Monday everyone! What’s so happy about Monday you ask? Well for one thing, tomorrow we get a day off because it’s a national holiday. But before you get excited, I should tell you that it’s not the appropriate time for celebration. 

In case you hail from other parts of the world, you might not know that tomorrow is ANZAC Day. Yes, ANZACs are a delicious biscuit that you might have come across in Woolworths, but although Aussies are more than a little eccentric, we don’t love biscuits enough to give them a national holiday.

The Iconic ANZAC biscuit.

Australians recognise ANZAC Day, 25 April of each year, as a day of national remembrance. It’s a time for our country to commemorate all Australians who served and died in war and on operational service. 

Around the country, millions of service goers get up early to attend commemorative ceremonies. I know this is quite somber and I apologise, but I am going somewhere with this.

While it’s still fresh in our memory…

In recent years marketers have tried to cash in on the day with disastrous PR consequences. Some may still remember Woolworths blunder back in 2015 where they called Australians to upload photographs of individuals affected by World War I to their "profile picture generator", which was then watermarked with the Woolworths logo and tag "Lest We Forget Anzac 1915-2015. Fresh in our memories".

Backlash from Woolworths ‘Fresh in Our Memories’ campaign.
I’m hoping that you might see how that could be construed as offensive. Sorry Woolies. You are still my supermarket of choice, but that wasn’t cool. Besides the fact that things will always get complicated when exploiting the loss of lives for financial gain, why would they want to have that kind of negative brand association?

While they are not alone, others have jumped on the bandwagon in a slightly more sensitive way. A spokeswoman from Coles said this year customers could support the Bravery Trust, which helps veterans and their families, by donating at registers or by purchasing a 12-pack of Coles Bakery Anzac Biscuits, Coconut Drops or Choc Chip Cookies.

The launch of the Raise a Glass initiative at the Kent Hotel in 2009. Photo: Darren Pateman.
Image courtesy of Canberra Times.
Back in 2009, Aussie beer giants, VB, took a different route and simply asked Australians to ‘Raise A Glass’ on Anzac Day to remember the Diggers. The ad featured General Peter Cosgrove and the campaign raised money for the RSL and Legacy. 

Who could forget the bugle bungle?

Channel Seven was forced to give an on-air apology, after the network accidentally cut to an advertisement during the playing of The Last Post ahead of the Richmond-Melbourne AFL game.

A bugler was 20 seconds into playing The Last Post for the Anzac commemoration, when the network cut to an advertisement for My Kitchen Rules.

Last year, the Anzac Day bugle tribute at MCG was cut short by ads, leaving viewers at home baffled and outraged.
Image courtesy: The Age
Negative Brand Associations
Besides being ‘one of the most dangerous days of the year for marketers to try to get involved in’, as pointed out by Ben Willee, of Spinach advertising firm, ANZAC day in Australia is a sore topic.

Poppies adorn a memorial shrine for ANZAC Day services.
Image courtesy SBS
Marketing consultant Adam Ferrier said to the Sydney Morning Herald that Anzac Day was a "tough day for retailers to get right as there is very little they offer which fits what Anzac Day actually commemorates.
"Therefore when brands do try and associate themselves with the day it comes across as forced and opportunistic. Most brands prefer to safely quietly revere the day, and leave it as sacred.’’ So fellow marketers, take this lesson and remember that there are other ways of providing value to customers without compromising ethics or harming your brand’s image. And sometimes that way, is to be silent and say nothing at all.

Alyce Brierley
Current student from the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School.

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