Veterans Affairs Minister, Michael Ronaldson, made that loud and clear while slapping Woolworths on the wrist for using the “potent symbol” without permission and for commercial purposes.
He won’t take further action against the supermarket giant mainly because it swiftly pulled an advertising campaign sprawling its logo and “fresh in our memories” over pictures of war veterans.
Woolworths could have faced a fine of up to $50,000.
Senator Ronaldson is personally charged with protecting the sacred WWI acronym – which has come to represent all Australian and New Zealand soldiers – and he won’t allow it to be diminished.
He hopes the “terrible mistake” by Woolworths serves as a reminder to all companies that Anzac is a “very special word” for all Australians.
“The court of public opinion is probably even more powerful than me as minister quite frankly,” Senator Ronaldson, told reporters in Canberra.
Of the 400 odd applications received by Senator Ronaldson to use the word ‘Anzac’, 344 were approved and 44 were rejected.
To gain permission an organisation must donate to ex-service bodies such as the RSL or Legacy and undertake not to trivialise the word.
The constraints on using ‘Anzac’ are almost as old as the word itself. A 1920 Act has protected it for 95 years and only the famous Anzac biscuit can bypass the minister’s approval for commercial use.
Woolworths copped widespread criticism on social media over the campaign, which overlayed logos onto pictures of veteran family members uploaded by the public.
Videos mocking the company quickly emerged online.
The company has apologised but it’s likely to leave a large hole in its marketing budget.
The campaign came as veterans, family members and the public prepare for centenary Anzac commemorations in Gallipoli and around Australia on April 25.
Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, said he did not want to see companies exploiting Anzac for their own commercial interests.