Woolworths has taken down an Anzac commemoration website after a barrage of criticism on social media over the decision to link Diggers with its ‘fresh food people’ slogan.
The supermarket chain was forced into damage control on Tuesday night after the Anzac Day advertising campaign caused national outrage, with some people labelling it “vile” and “disappointing”.
Woolworths encouraged members of the public to share stories and profile-style pictures of loved ones affected by or lost to war by uploading images to a website that then branded them with the Woolworths logo and the phrase “Lest we Forget 1915-2015. Fresh in our memories.”
“The Fresh in Our Memories website has been taken down this evening,” Woolworths said in a statement.
“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.”
But the site was not decommissioned before readers began posting critical messages in the ‘tribute board’ section.
Woolworths said the tribute board was for people to leave a comment “regarding one of these stories or add to our stories by leaving an ode to a loved one who served”.
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But it received rather different responses from viewers.
“I think it is rather vile that you would use the word association of ‘fresh’ to link with the memories of the great sacrifices made by our service women and men. It is one thing to sponsor a tribute quite another to entwine your commercial tag line in doing so. Please reconsider this website and the use of the word fresh,” one person wrote.
“I’m disappointed Woolies is using it’s well known commercial promotional tag as part of an Anzac tribute,” a second person said. “Really Woolies? Fresh in our memories?” said a third.
The option to upload an image for a Facebook profile photo of someone “affected or lost at war”, was also met with derision. “Crass,” wrote another person on the site.
In an earlier statement, Woolworths denied the commemoration was a marketing ploy and defended its record of raising money for the Returned Services League (RSL).
“It is a website designed in consultation with the RSL for people to share their photos, stories and memories,” Woolworths said. “All profits from the sale of merchandise on the site goes to the RSL.
“We are proud to support the RSL and our diggers. Like all Australians, we pay our respects to service people past and present.” Woolworths said its small logo on the site is in line with other corporately sponsored Centenary of Anzac activity. Since 1916 use of the phrase ‘Anzac’ has been protected by federal law, which has been expanded and tightened many times since.
No person, company or charity can use the word in public promotions without written consent from the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs.
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