Monday, March 2, 2009

Fosters Defaces Australian Flag

You would have had to have been paying very close attention but if you were you would have seen the disgusting defacement of our national flag by Fosters.

english flagIt is something that companies in England have done for a while and it is something of a necessary evil (well sort of). Companies produce English flags, but put their logos on them, and then give them away or sell them cheap with the result being that lots of houses and cars would fly the English flag and patriotism would be displayed. It always made for a great spectacle around World Cup time.

However, it never sat well with me. A country’s flag is one of its most purist symbols and there are rules governing its use both in order to protect it and what it represents.

You may remember Dick Smith (2001) landing himself in hot water for defacing the Australian flag and breaking the rules when he used it on the packaging in his grocery line.

He got busted because the rules are set out in Australian Flags, released by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Under the heading "Commercial use of the flag or flag image” it states explicitly and unambiguously, (quote):

The Australian National Flag, or representation of the flag, may be used for commercial or advertising purposes without formal permission, subject to the following guidelines:dick_smith_flag

> The flag should be used in a dignified manner and reproduced completely and accurately
> The flag should not be defaced by overprinting with words or illustration

You can see why Dick got himself in hot water.

So, last Friday night, as Marcus North became the 18th Australian to score a century on debut, the camera panned to a section of the crowd with Aussie supporters in it … and there it was, a jubilant fan waving an Aussie flag with the Fosters logo emblazoned across it. Clearly in breach of the guidelines of its use.

With the Australian team sponsored by VB and the South Africans being sponsored by Castle (a South African beer), I couldn’t help, in my cynical mind, wonder if this was some sort of ambush marketing and that Fosters reps were handing out Fosters sponsored flags for supporters to take into the ground and display.

Or maybe it was a poorly executed attempt to strengthen the overseas perception that Fosters is the beer drunk by all Australians.

Are you disgusted by it as much as I am or do you think that all is fair in love and war?


Julian Cole said...

It is funny because it seems something quite acceptable in English culture, you think of all the flags that bear the names of the local towns people are from as well.

The Australian flag has not been through this I guess.

Do you remember about 2 years ago Bundaberg Rum put the polar bear in the coat of arms? (I was trying to find a picture on google but couldn't) Do you think this is in the same league as the Foster defacement?

Daniel Oyston said...

I sort of remember Bundy doing that. Yes it is definitely in the same league. The Coat of Arms is a symbol of Australia and has certain symbolism to it e.g. The Emu and Kangaroo were chosen because they are animals that cannot walk/jump backwards and so Australia is “always moving forward”.

Mmm, maybe if you drink to much Bundy you stop “moving forward” and slow down. So maybe the bear was appropriate.

Still not a cool move. I think it just slowly chips away at our history and identity.

Julian Cole said...

Well I never, you learn something new everyday, I really like that analogy of moving forward.

Wags said...

I agree with you Oyster... a country's flag is part of its brand, and should have the same protection as any corporate logo. Well that's my view when I'm wearing my Marketing-coloured glasses!

Now, from a patriot's perspective, the argument is even stronger... our diggers who fought under the flag have every right to be upset when it is misused for commercial gain.

Nathan Bush said...

Totally agree - do you think such associations with beer/alcohol brands could be part of the reason why the aussie flag has copped such a bad bogan rep over the past few years. I know I cringe when I see certain types of people parading around with it - maybe these brands are playing to this audience?

Matt Granfield said...

I f'ing hate it. It's such a poor representation of our nation - where we come from, what we value. I mean what's with the blue, and the red? It's just a piss-weak interpretation of what Australia really is, yet it's probably the main way we are identified overseas. The flag isn't that great either...