CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 13 October 2018

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Sacrilege on toast anyone?

HONG KONG (SE): A Catholic website in Australia, Xt3.com, is encouraging people to think twice before deciding what to spread on their toast in the morning.

A Catholic Australian Social Network site with over 70,000 regular users, it is questioning the use of the sacrilegious in the marketing of new products.

Specifically in its sights is a newly-marketed spread to put on bread or toast called AussieMite, a product that visually resembles axle grease with a taste similar to the more traditional product sold widely in Hong Kong stores, Vegemite.

What has been described as an offensive advertisement shows people dipping their communion wafers into a jar of gooey black AussieMite, as a way of enriching their participation in the Eucharistic celebration.

Xt3.com is asking the question why a group of grown up, experienced public relations people would think that using a sacrilegious image would encourage people to spread the black goo on their toast in the morning.

An editorial on the site says, “Let’s face it. A group of people sat around a boardroom, held a meeting and thought it would be a good idea to associate a small company brand with sacrilege… Well the word they used was Sacrilicious.”

In a play on the two words sacrilegious and delicious, the advertisement shows a jar of AussieMite with the word sacrilicious boldly printed next to it.

In the event, the advertisement has created such an uproar that it has been pulled from some Australian media, but the question remains why the advertising company, ironically called Grown Ups, would think that mocking the body of Christ would be a best seller.

Xt3.com suggests that the thinking may have gone like this, “Cause offence—video goes viral—brand recognition—bingo!”

However, it then questions, “Does brand recognition equate to sales if the brand becomes tarred for being part of an offensive and unoriginal promotion?”

Mick Hunter, from Grown Ups, who worked on the advertisement, said that he is a bit surprised at the backlash.

He explained that he thought a few people may have been offended, but giving offence was not his intention.

Xt3.com questions why the company was not worried about offending some people, who presumably would be practicing Catholics, as Australia has quite a few of them and surely a company would not want to alienate any sizeable group in trying to get a newly-released product off the shelf and into the kitchen.

When grilled under the spotlight, Hunter got a bit hot under the collar and tried to turn the tables, saying that Catholics should not act in such an highly unchristian manner.

“We’re all just a bit taken aback at how vindictive a lot of people can be. There is now a Facebook page designed to take down the company and that’s not a very Christian thing to do,” Hunter steamed.

The Facebook page opens with a large advertisement for the company’s opposition product, Vegemite, which it is recommending for the morning toast.

“Were Catholics being vindictive in creating a Goodbye AussieMite page on Facebook, which was in objection to the profanity of the commercial?” Xt3.com asks.

It suggests that the matter should be looked at in different contexts in order to gauge the depth of bad taste to which the advertisement sinks.

It suggests showing someone dipping the national flag in AussieMite at a memorial service for a soldier killed in action before covering the coffin of the fallen warrior with a desecrated, gooey flag.

“Would you feel this was sacrilegious? Would you think the advertising company had gone too far?” Xt3.com asks.

The site editorialises that Catholics are human beings and have the freedom to defend their beliefs, culture and traditions, as well as have them respected by their neighbours.

“They should not be bullied into being doormats with statements like, ‘That is not a very Christian thing to do’,” is says.

 

AussieMite has offered an apology, but Grown Ups continues to stand on its newly-affected Christian principles by keeping mute, at least avoiding putting its other foot in its mouth.

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