Australia Day: The lessons ALDI and Big W learnt from social media outrage

Australia Day: The lessons ALDI and Big W learnt from social media outrage
Australia Day Big W top

Australia Day Big W top

The inflatable Aussie thong available at ALDI

Big W and ALDI are diverging in their approaches to Australia Day merchandise one year after they were hit with social media firestorms over t-shirts critics claimed were racist.

Last year, both retailers were criticised on social media platform Twitter for selling t-shirts featuring the phrase “Australia Est. 1788”, which were subsequently pulled by the retailers.

One year on, Big W and ALDI are taking very different approaches to their Australia Day merchandising and, in particular, novelty t-shirts.

This year, ALDI is selling a range of products including inflatable novelty thongs, t-shirts, singlets, board shorts and beach towels that are either coloured green and gold or decorated with Australian flags.

However, outlets visited by SmartCompany were not stocking novelty t-shirts with slogans.

In a statement, an ALDI Australia spokesperson told SmartCompany that while it is stocking Australia Day merchandise, the company had stepped up its Australia Day review process.

“ALDI Australia has carefully selected a range of merchandise and outdoor gear to help customers celebrate Australia Day this year,” the spokesperson says.

“All of ALDI’s products undergo careful review and testing to ensure they meet our customers’ expectations before they appear in stores. This includes seasonal merchandise, such as our Australia Day products.”

“This year, ALDI undertook a thorough review of all Australia Day products prior to order, with customer satisfaction our highest priority. In addition to our standard testing processes for quality assurance, we also reviewed all branding and designs on our Australia Day merchandise.”

But Big W is taking a different approach, with the retailer stocking novelty t-shirts with slogans including “this Aussie needs a beer” and “Australia born and bred originals” along with other merchandise. The t-shirts are being sold alongside a range of other products, including flags and thongs.

Australia Day Australia born and bred top at Big W

However, customers visiting the Big W online store hoping to pick one up could be left disappointed.

The merchandise currently does not appear on the front page of Big W’s website, despite being prominently displayed near the entrance of the company’s physical stores.

Likewise, a search for key phrases such as “Australia Day”, “born and bred” or “Aussie needs a beer” fail to produce any search results for the merchandise.

SmartCompany contacted Big W but the company declined to comment.

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