Coopers Brewery has issued an apology for its connection to a Bible Society ad featuring two Liberal politicians debating marriage equality on Sunday.
Managing Director of Coopers Brewery Tim Cooper and Chair of the company Melanie Cooper said they were "incredibly saddened" by the effect the 'Keeping It Light' advertising campaign has had on consumers of the brand's products.
"On behalf of the Coopers Board and seniors staff, we're incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers and our extended family," Tim Cooper said.
"As a long-standing, philanthropic company, Coopers Brewery has been passionate about supporting all aspects of our community.
"Our company's guiding principles have centred around respect for others and, as such, the recent activities surrounding the video made by the Bible society has conflicted with our core values."
If Coopers did not approve the ad, why would host Matt Andrews say "Thank you to the Coopers family" at the end of the ad, @coopersbrewery?— Karen (@kcIMT122) March 14, 2017
The Cooper family also distanced itself further from the campaign, saying the Brewery did not approve of the Bible Society video, which featured Liberal Party ministers Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson sipping Coopers Premium Light.
"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," Tim Cooper said.
The ad itself is part of the Bible Society's 'Keeping It Light' campaign which saw Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie sitting at a Parliament House cafe, talking about same-sex marriage. It featured some gratuitous, close-up shots of Coopers' Premium Light beer throughout, and spruiked Wilson as being "for same-sex marriage" and Hastie as being "for traditional marriage".
The campaign was met with immediate backlash when it first surfaced widely over the weekend, with criticisms of government MPs participating in what seemed to be a native advertising campaign for an alcohol company, as well as the clear religious overtones of the campaign.
Melanie Cooper went on to say the company is supportive of marriage equality and has always supported diversity in the community.
"Coopers Brewery has always been supportive of diversity and encourages inedividualism. Our company supports marriage equality," she began.
"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."
She also confirmed the company will cancel its line of Bible Society beer and join marriage equality advocacy group, Marriage Equality Australia.
"We've consequently cancelled the release of our Bible Society commemorative cans and we'll be taking steps to show our further support for our community, including joining Marriage Equality Australia," she said.
"Our company brews great beer that we're passionate about and we warmly embrace all Australians. Thank you for your time and your continued support."
The apology comes following two statements released by the brewery on Monday that looked to distance the company from the Bible Society ad, saying no permission was given for Coopers Premium Light products to be featured in the video.
Coopers: we did not give permission for our beer to be in the Bible Society ad— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) March 12, 2017
Bible Society: we teamed up with Coopers... pic.twitter.com/6zsqkCgmGr
Pubs and clubs in both Melbourne and Sydney also launched an extraordinary backlash against the company in light of the ad, with many dumping the brewery's products from its venues and replacing it with local beer.
General Manager of Sircuit, Chris Driscoll also went as far as to post a video of himself chucking Coopers beer bottles into a bin.
"What Coopers products that were available in Sircuit, have been removed," Driscoll said.
"Actually I threw them out. Sircuit and Mollies, like beer companies, have choices. I have made mine. If Coopers wish to discuss, they have my number."
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