Aus­tralian su­per­mar­ket shuts web­site in Vet­er­ans’ Day furor


Australia’s big­gest su­per­mar­ket chain on Wed­nes­day apol­o­gized and pulled down a web­site that has been widely crit­i­cized of com­mer­cial­iz­ing the cen­te­nary of the coun­try’s Vet­er­ans’ Day.

Wool­worths, which brands it­self as “The Fresh Food Peo­ple,” launched the web­site “Fresh in Our Mem­o­ries” late Tues­day to com­mem­o­rate AN­ZAC Day on April 25.

AN­ZAC stands for the Aus­tralian and New Zealand Army Corps, which was part of a dis­as­trous Bri­tish-led ground in­va­sion of Turkey’s Gal­lipoli penin­sula on April 25, 1915. The an­niver­sary of the start of the nine-month cam­paign by the multi­na­tional Bri­tish Em­pire force in World War I has be­come a ma­jor na­tional day for both Aus­tralians and New Zealan­ders.

Wool­worths in­vited cus­tomers to upload pho­to­graphs of vet­er­ans on the web­site. The images were dis­played with the slo­gan “Fresh in Our Mem­o­ries,” the Wool­worths logo and “Lest We For­get. AN­ZAC 1915 - 2015.” The cam­paign im­me­di­ately drew strong crit­i­cism on so­cial me­dia.

Min­is­ter for Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Michael Ron­ald­son on Wed­nes­day de­scribed the site as an ad. He said he con­tacted Wool­worths as soon as he be­came aware of the cam­paign and “asked them to end it.”

Un­der the Pro­tec­tion of Word “AN­ZAC” Act 1920, per­mis­sion for its com­mer­cial use must be granted by the gov­ern­ment, he said.

“The Aus­tralian com­mu­nity quite rightly ex­pects that the word ‘AN­ZAC’ is not triv­i­al­ized 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 or­ga­ni­za­tion,” Ron­ald­son said in a state­ment.

Wool­worths con­firmed that the site had been taken down and apol­o­gized.

“The site was de­vel­oped to give our staff and cus­tomers a place to put their sto­ries to mark the Cen­te­nary of AN­ZAC,” the com­pany said in a state­ment. “We re­gret that our brand­ing on the pic­ture gen­er­a­tor has caused of­fense. This was clearly never our in­ten­tion.”

The 1920 leg­is­la­tion car­ries a max­i­mum 12- month pri­son sen­tence and fines of 50,000 Aus­tralian dol­lars (US$38,000) for a cor­po­ra­tion and AU$10,000 (US$7,600) for an in­di­vid­ual.

Ron­ald­son said he had ac­cepted Wool­worths’ ex­pla­na­tion that it did not know per­mis­sion was needed to use the word. Be­cause the com­pany quickly closed the site, Ron­ald­son said he did not be­lieve it should be pros­e­cuted.

“I hope that the events of last night are a salu­tary re­minder to ev­ery­one that this is a very, very spe­cial word for all Aus­tralians,” he said.

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