When Peter Irvine bought Gloria Jean’s coffees he wanted to make it the ‘most loved and respected coffee company in the world’. The Hillsong elder and former Mercy Ministries head couldn’t have failed harder if he’d tried. His firm proudly has proudly funded or otherwise supported the Australian Christian Lobby, Family First, Hillsong church, Mercy Ministries, Jesus Racing, Hope 103.2 Christian radio and a plethora of other homophobic or fundamentalist Christian causes. Many of these are simply not respectable these days.
When the firm was roundly excoriated for a $30k donation to the rabidly gay-obsessed ACL, the company put its very best Social Media Expert Gurus on the case. On its Facebook page, Gloria Jean’s Coffees apologised for our offense rather than their evil homophobia. They claimed the $30k they gave to the Australian Christian Lobby was simply a fee for advertising, not a donation. They were lying: the Australian Electoral Commission lists it as a donation. Their notpology was co-signed by quite a number of senior GJ’s executives: but notably absent was Peter Irvine. Was he unrepentant? It looked like it.
Further more, Gloria Jean’s ignored any mention of a further donation, one of $10k to anti-gay party Family First. They lied about their affiliation with Hillsong. They claimed no religious affiliation at all, when the opposite was embarrassingly evident.
The Internet was not impressed, and the outraged comments still continue to flood on to every post, faster than they can censor them. Hillsong’s social media strategy could hardly get worse.
But it did. Gloria Jean’s thought now was a great time to start bragging about the donations they make. Leaving out the obvious hate groups, their arrogant boasting used charities such as Variety, Miracle Babies and the Bone Health Foundation to try and fix the PR mess created by Australia’s most hated coffee company.
And (even better!) they did it on Twitter. With a hashtag. A medium thoroughly beyond their control. Apparently their SMEG was off sick when #qantasluxury happened. The #WithHeartLocal hashtag they chose for their public masturbation has been thoroughly claimed for the forces of good.
And it’s fucking glorious.
Gloria Jean’s have to fire their PR firm. They need someone with a real understanding of the 21st century, its rejection of immoral bigotry and its fresh frontiers of digital communication.
I’m happy to volunteer my services. In fact, I will even give them a free sample of my wisdom. Here’s what they must do:
Admit that they donated to the ACL and Family First. Apologise sincerely and humbly for those donations, rather than everyone else’s reaction. Donate at least $50k to Australian Marriage Equality.
They will never, ever be the most loved coffee company in the world. But right now, they seem to be running blindfolded in the opposite direction.