For Coopers it’s been a brouhaha of almost Biblical proportions.
The controversy over the South Australian brewers association with the Bible Society and a PR stunt that backfired very badly continues to hound Coopers like an unshakeable hangover.
When Coopers announced that it was producing special commemorative cans with scripture verses printed on them (presumably not Proverbs 20.1: “Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler; whoever is led astray by them is not wise.”) to celebrate the Bible Society’s 200th anniversary it might have struck some as odd.
Although perhaps it shouldn’t considering the still family-owned company was founded by Thomas Cooper, a Methodist lay preacher and has been a consistent financial support of the Bible Society plus, it has been revealed, the Liberal Party.
What really let the genie out of the bottle was a Bible Society promotional video which featured two Liberal MPs, Tim Wilson who was for and Andrew Hastie who was against, debating marriage equality while toasting “Keeping it Light” with the themed Coopers beer.
This prompted a social media-led backlash with Coopers accused of being homophobic and some pubs refusing to sell any of the maker’s beer.
Despite Coopers’ protestations that the video was not their doing, and they had not approved it, the company has issued a series increasingly more abject apologies, scrapped the commemorative labelled cans and announced it will join other companies in signing up to Australian Marriage Equality campaign.
Coopers is still copping it however, with Hastie calling the company’s actions “craven capitulation” in the face of an illiberal progressive campaign and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton saying companies are being bullied by activists to sign up to progressive causes.
Some critics of the boycott have pointed out that Coopers has also been a major sponsor of SA’s annual gay and lesbian festival feast plus roughly 170 other charities and community groups through its foundation.
Was Coopers unfairly boycotted? Are boycotts a form of bullying or a fair way to express a moral point?