Woolworths Dumps Australia Day. Should Others Follow Suit?

To sell merch' or not to sell merch', that is the question?

Anita T is an award-winning marketing consultant with 15+ years of experience.

It's official - Woolworths and Big W are dumping Australia Day. Or, at least, the merchandise. Speculation is that the retail giants are responding to social sentiment provoked by the ongoing debate to change the date of the national holiday, but a group spokesperson has pinned the move on a decline in Australia Day merchandise sales.

The likes of opposition leader Peter Dutton are calling on the public to respond by shifting their spending elsewhere. However, Kmart made a similar move last year, and people kept spending. Parent organisation, Wesfarmers, annual report shows Kmart's revenue moved up by 16% compared to the previous year.

It provokes the question - will or should other brands do the same?

For marketing teams, doing something becomes political, doing nothing becomes political. The day has become controversial since advocacy groups have been fighting for a change of date. It's been a national holiday since 1994, which is only 30 years, but marketing teams, have become embroiled in how the day is represented to the general public.

It's like a tug-of-war between perspectives, and for some reason politicians are looking at brands like they're the umpire.

It begs the question, how are other brands doing Australia Day?

Coles says they'll still be selling Australia Day merchandise. However, a quick search on their website offers next to nothing:

Coles nothing on site for Australia Day yet
The Coles website doesn't appear to have much in the way of Australia Day merch'... yet (?)

Considering Dutton advocated people to take their business to Coles, or Aldi, he's going to be pretty upset. Maybe Coles is a bit slow off the mark but it is weird, seeing they already have 55+ easter products and hot cross buns... but no Australia Day merch' yet?

Ironically, a search for 'Australia Day' on the Woolies website reveals a nice list of classic products Australians might choose for an Australia Day BBQ. Sure, it's not merch, but it's not as if they haven't made some effort:

Woolworths BBQ items for Australia Day

The Daily Telegraph claim Aldi meanwhile is joining 'woke' Woolies by not selling merchandise either, but as the Telegraph is not renowned to be the most credible source of information, I'm not so sure that's the case. Aldi's recent catalogue sells a BBQ bash:

Aldi BBQ bash catalogue
Aldi is advertising 'BBQ bash' items.

In ad world, Australia Day is still on, but the focus is BBQ. The traditional Australian Lamb advertisement has dropped, and it's kinda perfect for this conversation - it highlights the great divide between generations, including generalised perspectives, and how a BBQ might bring us back together:

@deliciousaus The Australian lamb ad for 2024 has just dropped. This year’s short film lamb-poons Boomers & Gen Zs with commentary on the generation gap. More details in linkinbio #makeitdelicious #australianlambad #australianlamb #australiantvads ♬ original sound - deliciousaus

Perhaps the Switzerland approach for brands is to focus on what brings us all together: barbies, not politics.


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