They didn’t quite go ‘full Woolworths’, but in a roundabout sort of way, Rebel Sport went pretty close.
In April this year, Woolworths released an advertising campaign trying to capitalise on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. The backlash was swift and widespread.
This week, Rebel Sport also released a video. Their goal was to try and push their brand onto families in the lead-up to Father’s Day by ‘honouring’ the work of dads everywhere.
Unlike Woolworths, the sporting giant didn’t seek to exploit a national tragedy. Or did they?
The format of Rebel Sport’s video bears a striking resemblance to one that went viral in May, celebrating Mother’s Day. Except that the Mother’s Day video was for an entirely different purpose – to show support for mums being held in immigration detention.
Even the script in the Rebel video appears to be a straight rip-off.
“For all they do for us – big and small – every day. For feeding us and cleaning up the messes we make. For steering us in the right direction and giving us hope.
“And a shoulder to cry on. A smile that’s just for us. And cuddles… lots of cuddles.
“For loving us no matter who we are, what we do or where we are. For being selfless, dedicated and always there.”
And here’s the Rebel Sport script:
“For believing in me no matter what. And for making me believe in myself.
“For inspiring me so that I may inspire others. For encouraging me to do my best and supporting me through my worst.
“For helping me face my critics, and be worthy of my fans. For picking me up when I lost and keeping me grounded when I won.”
The most stark difference between the two videos is their key messages.
Here’s Rebel Sports’: “Say it with Rebel, this Father’s Day.”
And here’s the message from the Mother’s Day film: “This Mother’s Day, we’re thinking about another group of mums. Mothers who share all of the love, and all of the pain of parenthood, but who face a challenge that most of us can’t really imagine. Today we want to send a message to our fellow mums in detention centres in Australia and on Nauru. We want you to know that there are many Australians who do not support our government’s inhumane policies.”
There’s one other major difference, and it restores a little faith – the Rebel video has had just over 200 views. The Mother’s Day video attracted almost 100,000 views across YouTube, Vimeo and other social media channels.
Morgan Roche, one of the founding members of Mums 4 Refugees, explained the thinking behind making the video.
“Our inspiration for the film came after delivering a van full of winter clothes to South-West Sydney refugee service provider House of Welcome. A community development worker there explained to us that asylum seekers were internalising the negative public discourse, and that this was affecting their overall well-being,” said Roche.
“We wanted to do something for Mother’s Day that cut through the ugliness coming from Canberra and the media.”
Roche expressed disappointment in Rebel Sport’s apparent appropriation.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery as the saying goes, however we had a Mother's Day message of hope honouring refugee mums persecuted in Australian-run detention camps… four months later we see something glaringly similar used to sell sports gear for Father's Day”, Roche said.
Siobhán Costigan, co-Producer and co-Writer/Director of the film was similarly unimpressed.
“This film was made with the goodwill of a lot of people who feel passionately about Australia’s current treatment of asylum seekers and refugees,” Costigan said.
“The mums and all of the creative professionals involved donated their time and talents for free, so to see a film appear with such a similar concept and script is disappointing, to say the least.”
Rebel Sport did not respond to a request for comment by New Matilda, but notably it did reply to a series of criticisms on its Facebook page. And in the process, the sporting giant more or less confessed to stealing the idea by forgetting to finish a key sentence that addressed the key allegation.
“Rebel Sport: Hi everyone, thanks for your comments and while we respect your views, please be assured that we created our #thanksdad Father’s Day campaign with the simple intention of celebrating the role fathers play in the lives of athletes.”
Which is obviously tosh, but they continue: “We wanted to generate a ‘feel good’ factor and inspire customers to treat dad with a gift from rebel, as a way of saying thanks.”
Which is a little more accurate. And more: “After seeing your comments, we’ve taken a look at the Mother’s Day ‘Mums 4 Refugees’ video and while we respect the organisation that you’re supporting, and appreciate you may see some similarity where formatting is concerned.” (sic)
Which isn’t a sentence… and which only heightens suspicions that Rebel did, in fact, rip off the idea.
Finally, this from Rebel: “Please don't hesitate to reach out again if you need more information. We hope you have a great day.”
You can ‘reach out to Rebel’ by contacting their head office here.
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