You’d have to have been hiding under a rock to miss the furore over the Woolworths ‘Fresh in our memories’ campaign. Just in case you were, here’s a snapshot: Woolworths, via creative agency CarrSpace, launched a campaign inviting people to upload photos of loved ones touched by war to a picture generator tool. The photos were then overlaid with a montage featuring Woolworths branding and the line ‘Fresh in our memories’.
The campaign sparked howls of protest from the RSL and the public. Following direct intervention from Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Michael Rolandson, Woolworths pulled the campaign and issued an apology. Such was the public backlash, CarrSpace temporarily deactivated its Twitter account to protect staff from abusive tweets.
How did this campaign go so spectacularly wrong?
Use of the word Anzac for commercial gain
Use of the word ‘Anzac’ is governed by the Protection of Word ‘Anzac’ Act 1920 and Protection of Word ‘Anzac’ Regulations. The Regulations state that:
“No person may use the word ‘Anzac’, or any word resembling it, in connection with any trade, business, calling or profession or in connection with any entertainment or any lottery or art union or as the name or part of a name of any private residence, boat, vehicle of charitable or other institution, or other institution, or any building without the authority of the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs”
There are very few exceptions to the rule – for example, approval is generally given for use in connection with Anzac Biscuits (provided the biscuit conforms to the traditional recipe and shape), and as part of a business name, if that business is situated on a street/road with ‘Anzac’ in its name (eg Anzac Avenue Milk Bar).
Failure to comply with the Act or Regulations may lead to fines of up to $10,200 for individuals, $51,000 for bodies corporate, and up to 2 years’ imprisonment (for very serious breaches).
Wooloworths took the view that permission was not required, given the work it already does with the RSL. The Minister’s position is that permission would not have been granted, had it been sought.
How could this situation have been avoided?
This is an excellent example of why it’s highly advisable to have marketing campaigns reviewed by lawyers who are ‘all over’ marketing law. That the word ‘Anzac’ is protected by legislation is fairly obscure, and not likely to be known by many. But it’s not always about the law – a commercially savvy marketing lawyer will know to think outside the box, and consider whether there are ancillary issues to consider (eg public perception, how likely it is the campaign will be hijacked and to what extent).
Could the campaign have succeeded another way? Perhaps if the message from Woolworths included a statement that profits from sales (conducted on a certain day, or in connection with certain products) would be donated to the RSL and/or Legacy, the campaign may have been more readily accepted by the public. Or perhaps the message could have included a call to donate to the RSL/Legacy for its ongoing work in supporting veterans and their families.
As is stands, public perception was that a multi-billion dollar conglomerate sought to commercialise what is (to many) a sacred commemoration.
If you have any questions in relation to this or other marketing law issues, give us call on (03) 9663 9877 or visit www.khq.com.au.