Anzac Day

‘Raise a Glass’ campaign raises community concern

Victoria Bitter’s “Raise a Glass” ANZAC Day campaign was on our list of top stories for Grogwatch.

When fellow Grogwatcher Joseph sent through his comments on this topic, we decided to feature it as it sums up our own thoughts beautifully:

 A commercial has been airing on television in the lead up to Anzac Day. It’s subtle, confusing and pernicious all at once.

Addressed by retired General Peter Cosgrove, the viewer is encouraged to go to a website to register their interest in attending a Dawn service on Anzac Day. Other iconography appears on the commercial, most prominently the badge of Legacy Australia and the RSL. Now Legacy is an admirable charity – it provides support to families who have been left without proper means after the death of a loved one in active military duty.

But the website that the viewer is directed to is, in fact, a website for Victoria Bitter’s “Raise A Glass” Appeal on Anzac Day (complete with a screen for age before you can enter the site). And although there is no explicit encouragement for drinking in association with this campaign, the message is clear: here is a beer company ‘doing the right thing’, donating in the cause of freedom and defence of our country.

Anzac Day has always had an association with alcohol consumption – usually by veterans gathering to join their mates and reunite for one day of the year. While I don’t condone that, I can understand that it is an intrinsic part of the psyche and culture for these members of our society.

But this campaign goes beyond the tradition. I believe that this charitable donation campaign is being used deliberately and explicitly as a marketing tool, in order for VB to capture a particular segment of the non-veteran market on a very specific day. In this sense, it is pernicious, and is treading a fine line between advocacy of alcoholic consumption, its association with a ‘day of drinking’ and a worthy cause.

I know that the Advertising Standards Bureau is a self-regulatory body, and that as a result, may not be overly bothered by the disturbing nuances evoked in this campaign. But I hope that Grogwatch and others will work to restrict such pernicious devices in the future.

GrogWatch agrees with Joseph and finds the campaign disturbing, devious and dangerous. This does not come from a position of wowserism as our critics might attest, but due to the main fact that alcohol causes major harm to individuals and others and costs Australians $15+ billion a year.

ANZAC Day should be a day of reflection and respect, not a chance for Big Alcohol to opportunistically market beer on the back of nationalistic sentiment. We need to work together as a community to improve our drinking culture, so we can reduce the widespread harm it’s causing the community.

Hospital admissions and other indicators of alcohol related-harm including assaults spike on ANZAC Day and Australia Day every year. The last thing we need is Big Alcohol implying we’re not saluting those who served if we’re not drinking their beer. Honouring the diggers of the past, and those who’ve served more recently doesn’t mean you have to have a drink or have lots of drinks.

Many returned servicemen have long suffered from the effects of drinking too much. The Australian Drug Foundation was set up more than 50 years ago to help them. So as we approach the centenary anniversary of Gallipoli Cove it’s galling to see VB hijack an important national day to grow their profits.

Post a comment here to tell us what you think about VB’s ‘Raise a Glass’ campaign. Or if you’d like to make a complaint about the ads, do so with the Alcohol Advertising Review Board.

 Breaking News: 24 April 2013: The Conversation ‘Should we be consuming more than just patriotism on national days?’