Keeping It Light, Getting It Wrong.

Sometimes it’s not ok to be insensitive to a sensitive issue- and the Internet is unforgivable.

“One of the greatest marketing blunders in Australian history?”

A bit excessive for a Facebook comment from a marketing student’s point of view, but a complete ‘cock-up’ nonetheless…

Over the last 7 days, well-known South Australian brewery, Coopers, has disgruntled it’s consumers so much to the extent that it is being labelled as “disgustingly unAustralian”, encouraging a nation-wide boycott – all because of the power in digital marketing.


A social media driven video distributed by The Bible Society places the Coopers product in the middle of a same-sex marriage debate between two opposing members of the Australian parliament, in the hopes that the “keeping it light” campaign will translate to exposure for a new commemorative Coopers packaging.

Some of the public believe that well-known brands should not and can not comment use the publicity of their brand to comment on political issues, however, I believe that a company is entitled to express their views on important issues that affect their consumers. When is it ok for companies to speak publicly about political issues?

In saying this, where Coopers have got it extremely wrong is in a few areas…

First of all, they attempt to “keep it light”- meaning they endeavour to make one of the most contentious topics in Australia today, a light-hearted conversation. Such an important issue needs to be treated with more respect, as it is an issue that so many people, and I am sure so many of Coopers consumers feel extremely passionate about.

Screen Shot 2017-03-16 at 1.05.49 pm

When producing such content for social media platforms, they also have to expect people are freely commenting on the issue and expressing their own points of view.

They have chosen a debate where 3 in every 4 Australians have publicly accepted that reform in same-sex marriage is inevitable for this country. On such an important and passionate issue, such a discrepancy in supporters of each side will inevitably cause a backlash.

Where Coopers have particularly gone wrong is the way they have attempted to backpedal on this issue. At first, they distanced themselves from the publisher, and now they have pulled their commemorative can and published their own apology video that rivals Amber Heard and Johnny Depp’s botched attempt at an apology.

This example of digital marketing has taught be that the internet is unforgivable, where there is no hiding if mistakes this monumental are made by these large companies.

I spoke about this topic in this week’s MKF3881 ‘Spotlight’ where we touched on other companies such as Trump Hotels, where digital output has received an ultimately detrimental response… can anyone think of any more? Comment below!

If you are interested in reading more about the Coopers fiasco, I have attached some links from the web below.

Thanks for reading and see you next week.



7 thoughts on “Keeping It Light, Getting It Wrong.

  1. Really interesting! Do you drink Cooper’s? Will you stop drinking Cooper’s because of this? While I like that Australia is standing up for a very important issue, I also don’t think Cooper’s had any ill-intentions. I think this might be another 2 minutes of pain and then forgotten issue. Still, it is interesting to think that word of mouth and public opinion rules – we sometimes have ultimate power over brand popularity.

    Really good article!


    1. Thanks a lot! I don’t think that what happened with the Coopers situation would stop me from drinking their product. Ultimately, I think that their involvement in this issue wasn’t necessarily taking the side against marriage equality, but merely engaging in the debate, which most of the public on social media are seeming to forget. I absolutely agree with you that this has the makings of another 2 minutes of pain, only recently there were also large calls for boycotting Carlton United Brewery products that people have seemed to forget already.

      Thanks for your comment!


  2. I think that damage can be done so fast, and it can be so hard to undo. A lot of the time it seems that people don’t investigate the issue in its entirety and take a strong stance regardless. I know of people that are boycotting Coopers because that was what was going around on Social Media, they had no idea why but if everyone else was doing it they should too.
    A video went viral on my Facebook the other day about a franchise owner abusing his staff via a phone call. She recorded it and shared it and off it went, leaving the franchise owner removing commenting rights on his page, deleting reviews and trying real hard to back peddle. Whilst this is a different situation, I think it highlights what you were saying about how damaging social media can be in such a short span of time.


    1. Thanks for your example, it really does highlight how important social media engagement is in today’s marketing. What was your attitude towards the franchise owner after his attempts to backpedal? Similarly, it didn’t look great the way that Coopers tried to mop up their mistakes…

      Thanks for reading!


  3. A very current example! I’m just wondering about the flipside of all this, though – obviously, we’ve all seen how the combination of social media and political contention can backfire on a company (this being a great case in point). However, does it ever work the other way around? Can taking a stand cause a company to go viral in a positive way?


    1. Yes, great point, I have recently seen with the US electronic ban on flights, that Emirates have been able to use such an interesting policy and stance to market their own in-flight entertainment system. I guess there could be an argument that ‘any publicity is good publicity’. Do you have any examples where a company has taken a stance on an issue and it has been received in a positive way? Thanks for your views


      1. One example that I find really interesting is Target in the US changing their signage for “girls” and “boys” toys – they did it in response to customer feedback, and brand strategists say it was the right move, but of course there were a lot of very vocal customers who complained (

        At the end of the day, I think there will always be people who will be unhappy with a company’s political stance, but the question is whether they are people who matter to the company (i.e., are they their customers, and are they the majority of their customers?).

        There are also people who take an entirely different approach to this issue – rather than asking whether brands can afford to take a stance, they raise the question of whether they can afford not to ( Perhaps this is the best response to the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” paradox that brands seem to be stuck in these days (

        Definitely an interesting and complex topic!


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