Why does the co-opting of ANZAC day feel so icky?
3 hours after launching their ‘Fresh in our Memories’ website, Woolworths pulled the whole thing down.
The website superficially was meant to be a place where people could share their memories of war veterans and upload a commemorative picture to social media.
Like this guy:
Always the danger with social media. Once you give people control, anything can happen.
Woolworths immediately came under a heavy battery of criticism – for cashing in on the ANZAC legend in a crass and tacky way.
Knowing that there’s no mileage to be made out of being seen to be taking advantage of our beloved ANZACs, Woolworth went into immediate retreat.
The mood on social media circles was, how could they be so dumb?
But Woolworths must be thinking, how did we get so unlucky?
‘Why is everybody picking on us? Everybody’s doing it.’
Like how is it any different from VB’s ‘raise a glass’ campaign? Sure, that campaign got off the ground a little earlier (2009), so it doesn’t feel quite so much like jumping on the ANZAC centenary bandwagon.
But it’s still the same idea. Tie your brand to the ANZAC legend in the consumers mind.
Sure they donate $1m every year to Legacy and the RSL, regardless of how much they sell.
But essentially they’re just buying the rights to the brand. If you wanted a famous sportsperson or celebrity to endorse your brand it would probably cost as much.
And let’s face it, it doesn’t get much more famous or popular than the ANZACs. $1 mill is cheap.
Or what about the ‘Camp Gallipoli’ concert series? How tasteful is it to equate the hardships endured by ANZACs at Gallipoli with a music festival?
I’ll leave this one to the wags at The Shovel .
2015 Camp Gallipoli™ v The Original Gallipoli:
Can You Spot The 9 Differences?
This year’s Camp Gallipoli does a pretty good job of replicating the original Gallipoli event of 1915. But take a closer look and you may be able to spot some important differences. We’ve managed to spot nine. Can you find them all?
Here they are …
- The logo: Camp Gallipoli’s logo uses a capitalised font. But the branding the diggers in 1915 would have seen used a lower-case script font, which was popular with designers at the time.
- The entertainment: Camp Gallipoli will feature acts like Shannon Noll and You Am I, whereas the original Gallipoli will always be remembered for the legendary two-hour set from Aussie rockers AC-DC.
- Parking: The Camp Gallipoli organisers have advised festival goers that they will not be able to drive directly up to their camping space. At the original Gallipoli there was ample parking available, and participants generally set up camp next to their car.
- Ticketing: This year ticketing is being managed through Ticketek with most tickets sold online. In 1915 the majority of tickets were sold in-store.
- Movies: Punters this year will settle in to watch Russell Crowe’s The Water Diviner on the big screen. In 1915 they watched Crowe’s rom-com The Sum of Us.
- The lawn: The grass at this year’s events will be left uncut for a week to provide a rustic feel for campers. The grass at Gallipoli was trimmed daily.
- Breakfast: This year’s attendees will receive a cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon and toast. Due to a catering mishap at the original Gallipoli, diggers were left without toast.
- Swags: At this year’s event, Deluxe Camp Gallipoli Anzac Swags cost $275, and are available online or at Target. At the original Gallipoli, swags could only be bought at Target.
- OH&S: This year’s OH&S policy advises campers against using guy ropes on their swags due to tripping hazards. In 1915 guy ropes were allowed, but signs at the site advised diggers to bend their knees before lifting their swag.
Camp Gallipoli and Target are also making a donation to Legacy and the RSL, but it’s exactly the same deal. Effectively they’re just buying marketing rights.
And tell me, how is it different to what Woolworth’s were doing?
I think Woolworth’s just ended being a lightning rod for growing frustration and repulsion at the way ANZAC day is co-opted by selfish interests.
But it’s not just corporate interests. It’s not just about brands trying to leverage off ANZAC good-will. I’m also looking at teenagers at music festivals wearing Australian flags as capes here.
It’s about drawing on something real and something great in order to construct a sense of identity – an identity that’s pleasing to yourself and to others.
It’s about vanity.
The legacy of the ANZACs – the gifts that the ANZACs gave Australia – wasn’t just something we could feel proud about and bolster our fragile egos with. It wasn’t just a glorious wagon to hitch our identities too.
ANZAC day should be a reminder of the best that humanity is capable of. It should be a celebration of putting petty self interest aside in the name of a greater good.
Co-opting this intention for your own purposes –either to build a brand or a more grandiose sense of self – goes directly against this idea.
It’s using selfless sacrifice to promote selfish ends.
And that’s why it feels so cheap and icky.
If there is an ‘ANZAC spirit’ then I think it is in sacrifice – and that spirit lives on in the millions of people who are working to make the world a better place.
It’s a spirit that’s worth celebrating.
But there’s no room for selfishness here.
What does Anzac Day mean to you?