SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Australian supermarket chain Woolworths has pulled an advertising campaign after a backlash on social media and from the government which said it trivialised the memory of ANZAC soldiers who fought in World War I.
Australian gunners in action during the campaign. (Image: Public Domain)
Veterans' Affairs Minister Michael Ronaldson criticised the campaign for relying on the term ANZAC, named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps soldiers who fought at Gallipoli in 1915-16, while Twitter users dubbed it "tacky" and "tasteless".
Ronaldson said he called the retail giant on Tuesday and demanded it halt the marketing drive. It has since complied.
Woolworths' slogan is "The Fresh Food People" and the advertising material saw the company's logo, the word ANZAC and the phrase "Fresh in our Memories" placed over images of former soldiers.
"This is a very, very special word for all Australians," Ronaldson told reporters of the term ANZAC.
"It must be treated appropriately and we must never let it be used in an inappropriate sense that in any way diminishes service and sacrifice over the last 100 years."
The nation marks a century since the start of the Gallipoli battle on April 25 on the peninsula in what is now Turkey. Some 11,500 of 60,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who took part died.
Ronaldson said the use of the ANZAC word in any material had to be approved by the government under a 1920 law and Woolworths had not sought permission to use it.
"My concern now is to ensure that the lessons will have been learnt by that company, that they are reflected across the corporate sector," the minister added.
"People understand there are penalties, they understand that (in) the court of public opinion that Australians aren't prepared to see the word ANZAC trivialised."
On Twitter, Australian users made picture memes generated using the Woolworths campaign website, set up as part of the advertising drive.
"Lest we forget the ex-@woolworths employee who dreamed up the idea of marketing groceries with dead soldiers," one user tweeted.
Another wrote: "This Anzac Day I will honour the memory of my Grandfather by going into @woolworths and attacking the Turkish bread. #freshinourmemories."
Woolworths said in a statement it regretted the campaign had "caused offence".
"This was clearly never our intention. Like many heritage Australian companies, we were marking our respect for ANZAC and our veterans," it said.
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