A campaign of Coopers Brewery from Adelaide to commemorate the 200th birthday of the Australian Bible Society, backfired disastrously on Australian’s largest family owned brewer. Coopers released 10,000 cases of a limited-edition Coopers Premium Light beer with different Bible verses in order to “to reach even more Australians with God’s word”, according to the Bible Society.
The real bone of contention was a video launched Friday featuring two members of parliament discussing same-sex marriage. The video with the title ‘Keeping it Light’, which was announced as the first in a series, featured two liberal party politicians in a discussion, whether gay Australians’ should have the right to wed, while they were drinking Coopers Premium Light beers. The producers of the spot said that the men enjoyed the debate because there was "both a Bible and good beer on the table."
But many viewers of the video did not enjoy it the same way. Beer drinkers and pub owners started a campaign on social media against Coopers, stating that the South Australian brewer should avoid any sort of political statement, because sponsoring a political act by a religious organization forces customers to make a choice either in favor or against it. Some pubs even said, they would not sell any longer Coopers beer until the company would clearly position itself in favor of gay marriage.
In a first statement, which was later withdrawn, Coopers said: “With regards to the ‘Keeping it Light’ video from the Bible Society featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson, this is a light hearted but balanced debate about an important topic within Australia.” And the statement goes on: “Coopers isn’t trying to push religious messages or change your beliefs by celebrating 200 years of charitable work undertaken by the bible society…”
In a second statement Coopers reversed a little bit this point of view. “We want you to know that Coopers did not give permission for our Premium Light beer to feature in, or ‘sponsor’ the Bible Society’s ‘Keeping it Light’ video featuring Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson.”
Most of the comments on the company’s facebook site were quite negative about the campaign and the differing statements. One comment read: “I see you are now distancing yourself and your product from the video. I don't know what is worse, your lack of foresight or your lack of conviction.” And another said: “Looking forward to seeing you guys charge The Bible Society with misuse of trademark, otherwise this is a pretty blatant cover up.”
Coopers Brewery cancels cancels limited edition release of 10,000 cases of beer
“On behalf of the Coopers board and senior staff, we are incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers and our extended family,” Dr Tim Cooper, CEo of Coopers Brewery, said in a video statement.
“Our company’s guiding principles have centred around respect for others, and, as such, the recent activity surrounding the video made by the Bible Society has conflicted with our core values. Coopers never intended to make light of such an important issue, and would never and did not approve the making or release of the Bible Society video ‘debate’.”
Melanie Cooper, Coopers Director of Corporate Affairs, added: “Our company supports marriage equality. ...We have consequently cancelled the release of our Bible Society commemorative cans and will be taking steps to show further support for our community, including joining Australian Marriage Equality.”