Woolworths ends Anzac campaign after backlash

Picture of the Woolworths campaign for Anzac Day 2015 Image copyright Woolworths

The supermarket giant Woolworths has taken down an online Anzac Day campaign in Australia after it attracted strong criticism on social media.

The campaign used the slogan "fresh in our memories" over photos of World War One soldiers, echoing Woolworth's slogan "The fresh food people".

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Michael Ronaldson said he had demanded the company take down the campaign.

Woolworths has said it regrets any offence caused.

The row comes as Australia and New Zealand prepare to mark the centenary of the Gallipoli landings on 25 April 1915.

'Lowest of the low'

The Woolworths website had encouraged visitors to change their social media profile pictures by uploading images of past and present servicemen and servicewomen.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Australia marks the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings on 25 April

The picture generator branded the images with its logo and the words: "Lest We Forget Anzac 1915-2015. Fresh in our memories."

Woolworths' slogan in Australia is "The Fresh Food People", but the company denied it was a marketing strategy.

Many visitors to its Facebook page disagreed though.

Other disgruntled consumers created their own versions of the generated images and uploaded them on to social media.

Analysis: Wendy Frew, Australia editor, BBC News Online

Anzac Day is arguably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first campaign that led to major casualties for Australian and New Zealand forces during World War One and commemorates all the conflicts that followed.

The problem is, for some time Woolworths has branded itself "the fresh food people".

The ensuing backlash on social media showed Australians don't want Gallipoli - which in recent years has been elevated to an almost spiritual plane - tainted by commercial considerations.

That reverence is backed by law. In 1921, regulations were put in place to protect the word "Anzac" from inappropriate use.

Why Australia protects 'Anzac'

Mr Ronaldson said in a statement: "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.

"In this instance, permission was not sought by the campaign proponents, nor would it have been approved. Immediately upon having this campaign brought to my attention, I contacted Woolworths."

The company said in a statement: "The Fresh in Our Memories website has been taken down. The site was developed to give our staff and customers a place to put their stories to mark the centenary of Anzac.

"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.

"We continue to be proud supporters of the RSL (Returned and Services League) and Camp Gallipoli in this important year and look forward to working with them into the future."

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