Coopers Brewery has publicly endorsed same-sex marriage and apologised for the company’s involvement with the Bible Society after a mounting boycott against the brand.
“We are incredibly saddened by the impact our involvement with the Bible Society has had on our valued Coopers drinkers and extended family,” Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said in a video released by the company.
The apology came four days after the release of a video posted on Facebook by the Bible Society featuring Liberal MPs Tim Wilson and Andrew Hastie having a "light discussion on a heavy topic" – agreeing to disagree on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Coopers’ apparent sponsorship of the debate sparked a backlash and sharpened public focus on the brand’s partnership with the Bible Society and the Cooper family’s record of large donations to the Liberal Party.
Two press releases from the company – neither of which voiced support for same-sex marriage – failed to halt the controversy.
“This is a light-hearted but balanced debate about an important topic within Australia,” one of Coopers’ early statements said. The issue of same-sex marriage was described as “a debate we need to have.”
The company defended its partnership with the Bible Society and their 'Keep it Light' campaign, saying they "aren’t trying to push a religious message."
The Union Hotel Newtown said Coopers' initial response was "strange and underwhelming".
"The call to 'Keep it Light' is particularly upsetting, considering that it is absolutely NOT a light issue for the thousands who are effected [sic] by marriage inequality," the owners wrote on Facebook.
The pub was one of numerous establishments around Australia which announced they would no longer stock the beverage.
But according to the Coopers' Managing Director, the brand “never intended to make light of such an important issue,” and the Bible Society video “conflicted with our core values.”
Dr Cooper said the company did not approve or sponsor the offending video.
Coopers’ Director of Finance, Melanie Cooper, said the brewery “has always has been supportive of diversity and encourages individualism.”
“Our company supports marriage equality,” she said.
Ms Cooper said the company was deeply sorry for the offence caused, respected everyone’s opinions and beliefs, had cancelled the release of commemorative Bible Society cans, and would join Marriage Equality Australia.
Backlash from drinkers after the video was released last Friday was swift – with pubs joining a boycott of the brand.
"We are not serving Coopers Beer until a more positive response is received to the Marriage Equality Debate," a sign at Hollywood Hotel in Sydney read – a photo of which was posted on Facebook.
The Old Bar in Melbourne posted a similar message online.
"It's a sad day for us as over the many years we have built a strong relationship, yet after recent events it is very obvious that our values are at odds," they wrote.
BREAKING: Sircuit gay nightclub in Melbourne dump @coopersbrewery stock into the bin.
— Rod Swift (@rodcub) March 13, 2017