Nick Walters & Jackie Pearson
According to the AIDA model of goals, advertising seeks to gain the consumer’s attention, interest, desire, and action. But as Woolworths has recently experienced, gaining the attention of consumers does not always lead to a successful marketing campaign.
Woolworths were recently condemned for their online ANZAC Day campaign which encouraged consumers to upload images of war veterans to social media. The images were then transformed into a commemorative picture with the Woolworths logo and the tagline ‘Fresh In Our Memories’.
The backlash was swift and ferocious, culminating in the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Michael Ronaldson, contacting Woolworths directly and demanding immediate abandonment of the campaign. Citing the campaign as trivialising the use of the word ANZAC, Senator Ronaldson also noted that the word ANZAC was rarely authorised to organisations without obtaining support and endorsement from the RSL and Legacy. (Mitchell, S. Apr 15 2015)
Woolworths is not the first to seemingly exploit ANZAC Day for commercial benefit. So why was Woolworths so heavily criticised when other examples of commercialising ANZAC Day seem to be broadly accepted, most notably the VB Raise a Glass campaign?
Whilst a combination of factors contributed to the backlash, the pivotal issue is Woolworths linked their brand far too closely to ANZAC Day through the insensitive use of the ‘Fresh In Our Memories’ tagline. This of course references Woolworth’s ‘Fresh Food People’ slogan which has been instrumental in growing Woolworth’s market share from 17% in the 1980s to about 43% today. Therefore ‘fresh’ is intrinsically linked to the creation of the supermarket duopoly that exists today which is typically viewed negatively by the public.
The use of social media here has enhanced the immediacy of impact of the campaign; particularly through a platform such as Facebook, which has the ability to provide an instantaneous feedback mechanism. Giving the user the capacity to select the image has in this case become problematic, in that the photo upload functionality acted as an enabler for negative satire against the campaign. Yeshin (2012, p.13) describes the risk of communication models and messages with this type of consumer interpretability, stating “If the medium selected to convey the message is poorly targeted; if the impact surrounding the noise causes distractions; or if the intended receiver’s prior experience distorts the meaning of the message, then the communications process has failed.”
In contrast, VB’s ‘Raise A Glass’ campaign has been generally accepted by the public, albeit some suggesting that linking alcohol to war veterans is insensitive, due to the prevalence of alcohol related issues in this demographic. So why is VB’s campaign generally accepted?
The ‘Raise A Glass’ campaign commenced in 2009 after a 1941 WWII photo was discovered in the old Victorian Brewery of soldiers forming a VB symbol from beer bottles. Given this historical lineage, the VB product can be marketed as having a genuine relevance to ANZAC Day. Its brand positioning is, therefore, significantly more aligned to the values and sentiments of ANZAC Day than Woolworths.
‘Raise A Glass’ is also positively received because it is a partnership between the RSL, Legacy and CUB. The endorsement of the RSL and Legacy sits well with the Australian public and confirms the moral and ethical acceptability of the campaign. But perhaps most powerful of all is the charitable element of the campaign. Since commencing the campaign VB has donated $5 million to the RSL and Legacy. VB acknowledges the commercial benefits for the brand and the public seems accepting of this given the significant benefits bestowed upon servicemen and servicewomen. So was Woolworths biggest mistake that they failed to incorporate a fundraising element into their otherwise commercial activity?
Whilst ‘Raise a Glass’ has undoubtedly enhanced VB’s brand image and delivered commercial benefits, it is questionable as to whether Woolworths mistake has impacted negatively on the brands longstanding image from a commercial perspective. Gruen Transfer panellist, Adam Ferrier (news.com.au 2015), observes that this negative publicity is merely “a blip in the ocean of consumers’ interaction with Woolworths,” but it is likely that consumer behaviours will swiftly return to normal.
Mitchell, S. Apr 15 2015, ‘Woolworths chastised after Anzac campaign triggered social media backlash’, AFR Weekend, retrieved 1 May, 2015, http://www.afr.com/business/woolworths-chastised-after-anzac-campaign-triggered-social-media-backlash-20150415-1ml9kc
Yeshin, T. 2012, “Integrated Marketing Communications”, Routledge Press, Greenwich, pp.13.
Ferrier, A in Chung, F 15 April 2015, ‘Gruen Transfer panellists review Woolies’ ‘Fresh in Our Memories’ Anzac campaign’, Retrieved 4 May 2015, http://www.news.com.au/finance/business/gruen-transfer-panellists-review-woolies-fresh-in-our-memories-anzac-campaign/story-fnkgdftz-1227305024316