beer business

UPDATED: Two open letters to Coopers

Note: The original post has been updated to include a new video response from Coopers. Which is only fair. The update appears below, on top of the original post.


Hey Coopers,

It’s me again. Judging by your shell shocked expressions it’s been an incredibly tough few days. Firstly allow me to say, I am pleasantly surprised by the apology. I’m pleased it came but I honestly wasn’t expecting it. My belief here is that if someone is big enough to admit they made a mistake and genuinely apologise for it, then that’s the end of the issue. It makes no sense to me to continue to be angry at someone for doing something wrong and then not accept their efforts to change things.

Already some have mocked the apology video because you’re reading off a teleprompter. To which I say “well, der, of course you are”. As I’d written earlier, it was the tone deaf initial responses that were a huge part of the problem. With this apology of course you’d want to make sure you got it right, so no issues with teleprompter for me.

Also, I’ve also seen people dismiss the apology as a commercial response to the threat of losing money. Well, to me I thought that was one of the aims of a commercial boycott – to force a company to realise its errors and correct them. And that’s what happened. And maybe you’ve learned something along the way too.

But for me, all I needed was a statement that make it clear where Coopers stood on the issue of marriage diversity. And that is now crystal clear.

So we’re good. I’ll lift my own boycott. Which is handy with winter coming up. You do make a good stout.


Dear Coopers,
Just wanted you to know, I won’t be buying your beer any more.  Perhaps this is not a great surprise to you, given an angry tweet of mine you may have seen, one that used the F-word and said that you were dead to me. Rest assured this letter won’t contain any swear words – even though my anger has not abated.

I think you know what this is related to. But in case you don’t, it’s to do with this video treating the marriage equality debate as a bit of a joke.


And this very lame response defending it (yes, you did release another one overnight when you realised just how bad this situation was and needed to go into damage control. We’ll get to that one later).


But I think I need to explain just why this angered me so much, because it seems you just don’t get it. Gay marriage is not some “light-hearted” topic. It involves human beings who are forbidden by law to marry. I fail to see anything remotely amusing about that.

On top of that, the whole idea of the “Keeping it Light” campaign is extremely distasteful. Here’s why – it’s those people standing in the way of gay marriage, saying to those they’re depriving of a basic human right, “hey let’s sit down and have a chat over a beer”. It’s the oppressors asking the oppressed to sit down and have a beer. It’s like the KKK asking black people to sit down and have a “fun” conversation about racism. Or wife beaters wanting to have a “light-hearted” conversation about domestic violence.

And that statement about how you’re not trying to change beliefs is proof that you don’t really understand what a boneheaded thing you’ve just done. People don’t think you’re trying to change anyone’s beliefs. Our anger is based in a betrayal of trust. We drank your beers for ages, and perhaps had a few fond memories in which a Coopers Green played a part. But now we find out the beer brand we trusted and loved has sided with those opposing marriage equality. That really comes as a shock. And given the outpouring of disapproval on your Facebook page and the #boycottcoopers hashtag on Twitter, it seems a lot of other people feel the same.

Overnight you released a second statement.



While you may not have given your permission for the beer to appear in the video, I find it hard to believe you were unaware of this. According to this news report, it was filmed a month ago. So it wasn’t like they bashed it together over the weekend.

It’s telling that this statement in no way refutes the anti-marriage equality stance inherent in the Bible Society’s Keeping It Light campaign. Which makes one think that those making the decisions at Coopers actually agree with this stance. You got into bed with the homophobes and those standing in the way of human rights and you don’t seem in any hurry to get out of that bed.

As for the claim that your brewery is “made up of individuals from a number of different backgrounds”, that smacks of the “hey I’m not racist, I have a black friend” defence.

This is really a serious, serious misstep for Coopers. It’s one thing for the owners of the company to hold these sorts of beliefs but now you’ve associated your brand with those beliefs. And you’ve given those of us totally opposed to those beliefs little choice but to stop buying them.

Coopers, it was fun. But now it’s not any more.


27 replies »

  1. Frankly I don’t understand why Coopers didn’t just stay the hell out of the whole thing. Since when is this sort of “discussion” part of their usual business activities? And the way to START staying out of it would have been to mention that bit about not being consciously involved in the video “debate” (via advertising exposure from use of their beers) in the first place. But they didn’t do it. Which means they saw the debate as an advertising opportunity. Which means they probably DID know about the use of their beers and actively encouraged it. Which means they deserve everything they get in this blog.

  2. When I woke up yesterday morning and saw the news item in the age about these ‘lighthearted’ discussions about our human and civil rights, I was infuriated.
    I stated tweeting and facebooking #boycottcoopers

    I have been a Coopers customer since 1972, when a friend introduced me to Coopers, the ‘champagne of Australian beer’. Over the years, I have introduced dozens, maybe hundreds of people to Coopers, especially back when it was a relatively obscure little regional brewery, it’s products hardly known on the east coast of Australia.
    I was queer all that time.

    I will never drink or purchase Coopers again.
    Tim Cooper you have made a big mistake bringing your so-called ‘christian’ bigotry and right wing political ideology into Coopers Brewery’s commercial operations.
    We are not going to take it.

  3. Oh Coopers, I liked you more before I knew you. Luckily it’s not the 80’s and there are plenty of interesting brews on the market & hopefully some of them don’t find inequality a bit of a lighthearted chuckle.

  4. Glen, you obviously didn’t see the video. There were no Cans in it. Maybe try and see all sides to the story.

    • I meant to refer to the beer, rather than the cans specifically (which I didn’t mention elsewhere because I don’t care if they have Bible quotes on them) and so have changed that word.
      Though I’m not sure what you mean by “try and see all sides to the story”.
      I see a company that has publicly linked themselves to an anti-marriage equality group and has still not stated they don’t agree with that stance.
      When that became clear to me I realised I couldn’t in good conscience continue to support their product.

  5. Don’t forget, too, that until June this years Coopers had been sponsors of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, so the betrayal is all the more painful. We thought they were an ally, and now we know they were just exploiting us.

  6. This is they reason why Coopers’ video matters and can be read as sincere:

    1) it was a video, not a written statement like the last two attempts.
    2) video says more than audio or text
    3) it could have been delivered by a PR staffer or low-level employee but was not
    4) it features two board members. That’s right, this comes from the top.

    Yes, it was awkward because of a script and cue cards. But I can understand and feel for the nerves of putting it out there publicly and actually finding the way to say sorry and mean it.

  7. Personally, I am OK with ‘Keeping it Light’. Lets for a second swap out Australian marriage law with a topic not associated with Religion. Now lets watch the Bible Society present it in the same format, sponsored by Coopers, and all of a sudden this is healthy debate. Debate setting the issue, not the person, as the focal point. Debate that allows everyone involved the opportunity to share their thoughts. Debate spent digesting others’ opinions not just delivering your own. Concise debate easily understood whilst flicking through a Facebook feed full of junk..? Debate that I will probably continue later when I get to the pub and sit around a few drinks with others maybe..? Extremely distasteful debate this is not. Tell me, honestly – you’ve never discussed such a thing over a drink with another..?

    Lets put Australian marriage law back as the topic now. Right or wrong – it still needs to be discussed, right..? I’m sorry, but sometimes the person discussing/hosting/sponsoring is going to have a different opinion to you – and that might make you a bit cross.

    But I am glad you managed to abate that anger. And that all you needed was a ‘statement that made it clear where Coopers stood on the issue of marriage diversity’.

    No. Turns out all needed to lift your boycott was a statement that said what you wanted it to say, even though deep down you know i) that Coopers did know that video was being made, and; ii) they did chose to align themselves with this charity, again, and again, and again, and; iii) did not genuinely apologise at all. But Winter is coming after all…

    • Sorry, it’s hardly a “debate” when it features two people from the same party and a moderator with a frigging Bible in front of them. In a video created by people against same sex marriage.
      That’s a stitch-up.
      And yeah, a statement of support is all I needed to lift my boycott because that was the bloody reason I put on the boycott in the first place. If Coopers had done that two days ago I wouldn’t have had a problem.

      • Or, you know – a moral soul…
        #feverpitch96 – yours is a ‘troll-like’ response. No argument; just a close-out – simply because someone wasn’t complying to your (stolen) rainbow code. Do you even understand how beautiful a rainbow is?
        Espejo. This is why Coopers were weak, spineless, in their response.

  8. Yes, it was.
    Someone above mentioned that their life (in regards to gay marriage) wasn’t open to debate. This sort of ideology (my way or no way!) lends towards totalitarianism (from little things, big things grow). Coopers were bullied out of and weakly back down from having any connection whatsoever to a fair, honest discussion about a political policy on a great, beautiful rock.of.society – Marriage.

    My response was this: My life and all ideas, philosophies, policies, etc, surrounding it, is open to debate by anyone who likes – provided that respect is given in honest. It’s called freedom and democracy. Stating that on a beer blog was important and in no way was I being a ‘troll’. I was adding some balance to the distillery.

    Peace out.

    • You’re free to hold that view, though I’m certain that you don’t actually hold the view you’re just arguing hypothetically about something that is impossible. Fine. I think differently to that view, naturally. The first thought to spring to mind is that the human race would be wiped out within a few generations.

      One last thing. I know that Australia will be spared from same-sex marriage. It won’t happen.


      • It’s more likely to happen than not seeing a majority of Australians want it, the Prme Minister and opposition leader want it, all state premiers want it and there is no decrease in momentum for it. But you can live in your fantasy land if you want to.

        Go with it. Let’s pretend your rights were being debated. How would you feel if the merits of you marrying were up for debate and that the population wanted you to only marry a person of the same sex. You clearly wouldn’t want that given your declaration disdain for homosexuality.

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