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Raise a glass


I am no prude. I have drunk more than my fair share of the amber fluid in my time but there is something very distasteful about the Carlton United Breweries’ “Raise a glass campaign.

They have been running this for five years now and have raised over five million dollars for Legacy which is a very worthy organisation that looks after the families of current and former service personnel.

The latest one ‘Doug’ focusses on a returned soldier from the second world war who happens to have a photograph in his collection of himself and mates who are posing in front of empty beer bottles that have been arranged to spell out VB (pictured above).  The ‘creatives’  have gone to great lengths to make all the ads appear understated and heart-felt and Dougie is a genuine bloke but the abrupt editing seems to be contriving a story that isn’t really there.

A whole lot of myths and national self-esteem are rolled into this amorphous and shifting concept, the Anzac spirit; mateship, honour, bravery and of course sacrifice. The later is the most important – we are talking profound and often absolute sacrifice.   War is violent, brutal and dirty.  It kills, it mutilates, it destroys lives – not just those serving but their families and loved ones including young kids.   When my kids were younger I used to think about what it would feel like to have to be away from them for many months at a time and knowing if they would ever see them again.  It would be heartbreaking knowing that you might not be there to help them and look after them.  That is sacrifice.

My problem is that a commercial enterprise (now owned by a large South African brewery)  is using the Anzac spirit for it’s own purposes – selling more beer.   They are getting so far more from the ads than what they give back by cynically tapping in to the national zeitgeist and exploiting the very real sacrifices that so many have made.   Even the money they give to Legacy is conditional – a dollar from every specially marked carton (colloquially known as a slab) which sell for about $45 dollars.  That’s a bit more than 2%.  While the ads aren’t crass enough to have a pack shot – although having worked on ads I know that that is the only thing the client really cares about – they do show the product.  Two glasses one slightly sipped belonging to the subject Dougie or General Cosgrove or Bree Till who’s husband was killed in Afghanistan; the other belonging to someone who didn’t return.

But the worst thing is the VB logo that appears next to the Legacy shield at the end.   It just cheapens everything.  If they were sincere they would give the money and not try to exploit something that is priceless and profound.

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