In the lead up to ANZAC commemorations, a handful of brands were heavily scrutinised for their actions and behaviours, and were widely claimed as exploitative.
Consumers’ radars were well and truly set for any brands attempting to inappropriately leverage the commemoration, and these brands were quick to be put under the spotlight. But, was it exploitative actions from the brands, or as some have claimed a case of community oversensitivity?
A handful of brands received their share of media attention, with the two most discussed campaigns coming from Woolworths and Target. Woolworths decided to link their own tagline to the commemoration via a “Fresh in Our Minds” campaign. While Target partnered with Camp Gallipoli, and released a range of ANZAC (Camp Gallipoli) clothing range, including hoodies, beanies and stubby holders.
The campaigns resulted in a significant community backlash, with products being pulled from shelves, a spate of public apologies, as well as a marketing media examination of the various organisations involved in commemorative events.
The criticism of these puns, and claims of exploitative behaviour, were well documented. The brands were criticised for being opportunistic, and received their share of criticism from mainstream media and marketing community. Less well documented, but equally important though, is what they didn’t do, and how this could have change consumers receptivity to their presence.
Avoiding the opportunistic tag.
There were brands whose role in the commemorations were generally accepted. So, what did they do to avoid being branded opportunistic?
The standout for me was VB. Or should I say is VB. They have supported the RSL Legacy’s commemorations for over 8 years with their raise a glass initiative, and continue to focus their efforts firstly on what they can do to assist the RSL and Legacy in their efforts. For the Gallipoli centenary, this meant continuing to focus on veteran welfare with the raise a glass fundraising appeal.
This crucial consistency in their support for ANZACs and ANZAC Day meant consumers had time to understand why the brand was involved in commemorations, as well as time to demonstrate the sincerity of their efforts, subsequently gaining VB a respected role in the 2015 centenary.
It all started with them simply asking the custodians, The RSL and Legacy, how they could support commemorative activities in a sincere, respectful and meaningful way. A role that FIRST helped these organisations’ achieve THEIR objectives for the commemoration.
It’s a simple action really, but one that ensured VB received consultative guidance from the commemoration custodians. This also meant they received the most pertinent advice when determining the most appropriate activities to support and run within the partnership.
Reactions from the marketing community have themselves been interesting to observe. Ranging from claims of community oversensitivity, all the way to a serious kicking of the brands/agencies involved.
So, was it a case of community oversensitivity or brand opportunism? Maybe if brands asked for permission first, then they wouldn’t even need to decide.