Coopers Brewery has apologised over a recent Bible Society video which saw two Liberal MPs discussing marriage equality while drinking Coopers Premium Light on the Queen’s Terrace at Parliament House.
The clip sparked a major backlash against the Adelaide-based brewery after the Bible Society aired a debate featuring gay Victorian MP Tim Wilson and conservative Christian MP Andrew Hastie discussing their opposing views on marriage equality. Mr Wilson, a former Human Rights Commissioner, supports gay marriage whereas Mr Hastie does not.
The debate was part of a Bible Society series called’ Keeping it Light’ with the idea behind it being to have ‘light conversations on the heaviest topics’. The Bible Society’s slogan is ‘live light’. The debate series was to form part of the Society’s 200th anniversary, which was to feature on some of Coopers Lights’ commemorative cans and include verses from the Bible.
Canned: Coopers’ Bible Society commemorative cans.
But the video spectacularly backfired with activists objecting to what they said were its trivialising of the issues and heavy product placement, as well as objecting to the beer giant’s long association with the Bible Society.
Sydney pubs The Newtown Hotel and The Hollywood Hotel and Melbourne bars Mollie Bar and Diner, Sircuit Bar and The Old Bar were some of the venues that decided to ditch Coopers, following the Bible Society’s disastrous multi-media foray.
Coopers, also one of the top backers of the South Australian Liberals, went into damage control mode last night, issuing an apology fronted by its Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper and Melanie Cooper Director of Finance and Corporate Affairs.
During the apology Dr Cooper said: “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’.
“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.”
Ms Cooper said the company had cancelled its Bible Society commemorative cans, which also featured Bible verses, and would be joining Australian Marriage Equality.
“Our company supports marriage equality,” Ms Cooper said.
“Offence has been taken by our recent involvement, for which we are deeply sorry. We have listened to a range of community views, we acknowledge this feedback and respect everyone’s individual opinions and beliefs.”
But some posters on the company’s Facebook page derided the apology and criticised the participants for reading off an autocue.
“Worst auto cue reading ever. All they needed to say is “we’re sorry…please let us go back to making fists full of money,” said one.
Others disagreed: “I think they are probably doing the best they can. They certainly look both serious and humble, and they are both facing the camera and speaking those words. I think we should take them at face value. It’s the apology we were after.”
The original ill-fated Bible Society video with Tim Wilson, Matt Andrews and Andrew Hastie. Pic: Bible Society/Vimeo screengrab.
Meanwhile, the Bible Society maintained that Coopers had no involvement in the video.
“Bible Society is entirely responsible for the ‘Keeping it Light’ video. It was not sponsored by Coopers. No money has changed hands between Bible Society and Coopers in regards to this campaign.
“Bible Society remains grateful to Coopers for both the release of light beer commemorating our bicentenary and their support through their foundation for the distribution of bibles to the Defence Force and those who need them.”
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