It launched a campaign called ‘Fresh in our memories’ last week to tie into the upcoming Anzac centenary, which marks 100 years since Kiwi and Australian troops landed in Gallipoli.
‘Fresh in our memories’ references Woolworths’ catchphrase, ‘The fresh food people.’
The campaign’s website contained a forum where visitors could post tributes to fallen soldiers, an invitation to the “entertaining, but also respectful and informative” Camp Gallipoli event, and meme generators which applied a Woolworths-branded “Lest we forget” slogan to pictures uploaded by the public. Users were asked to swap out their social media profile for the branded image.
“We encourage you to share a memory of someone you know who has been affected or lost to war, by changing your profile picture on social media to that person. Be it a grandparent who served in World War I or a parent who fought in a more recent war, let’s revive and share their memory, passing them on to the next generation.”
You could also use an image of yourself as a mark of respect to our service men and women. Once the generator is complete, please change to your profile picture image to fully complete the process.”
The campaign backfired, however, as a number of users found Woolworths’ branding offensive.
Wooloworths how dare u my father fought for this country and I know wd be disgusted with this degradation by commerce #freshinourmemories
— Creatively Couture (@literatelipstik) April 14, 2015
— Chad Ess Squire (@ChadPD) April 14, 2015
Others used the meme generator to apply the branded slogan to inappropriate images.
— Mark NewtON OFF ON (@NewtonMark) April 14, 2015
— Gareth Williams (@notGareth) April 14, 2015
The backlash quickly spread worldwide, with the resulting mess dubbed “Brandzac Day.”
A spokeswoman for Woolworths told Daily Mail Australia that ‘Fresh in our Memories’ was not meant to be a marketing strategy but was simply “a website designed in consultation with the [Returned and Services League] for people to share their photos, stories and memories.”
She said the branding was in line with other corporate-sponsored activity around the centenary of the Anzac troops’ landing at Gallipoli. When the site was taken down last night, Woolworths apologised for the situation on its Facebook page.