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Coopers cancels Bible Society cans after marriage equality controversy

Coopers Brewery has cancelled its new range of commemorative cans to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Bible Society after three days of controversy around a video produced by the society featuring a discussion about marriage equality.

The video, produced for the Bible Society, features Liberal MPs Andrew Hastie and Tim Wilson debating marriage equality. It was intended by the Bible Society to be the first in a “Keeping It Light” series featuring “light discussions on the heaviest topics”.

The discussion was fronted by strategist Matthew Busby Andrews from “narrative consultancy” Sujet Sydney, which says it is aimed at “values-driven organisations”. Andrews, previously a creative director at Banjo Advertising and before that Singleton Ogilvy & Mather, founded Sujet last year. The Bible Society content appears to be among Sujet’s first work.

The discussion video featured prominent placement for Coopers, and the three men toasting the brewery. However, Coopers insisted that the Bible Society was responsible for the work, and the brewery had not authorised it.

According to the credits at the end of the video, the executive producer of the video was Bible Society Australia’s group CEO Greg Clarke and the series producer was the society’s head of marketing and communications Damian Fisher.

The video saw objections from those who felt it trivialised an important subject or interpreted it as Coopers and the Bible Society opposing marriage equality.

The Coopers Foundation has long publicly supported what it describes as organisations which reflect “Christian values”.

Last night Coopers said it would not be releasing the 10,000 cartons of light beer emblazoned with 20 different Bible verses.

In a statement. Coopers’ director of corporate affairs Melanie Cooper said: “Our company supports marriage equality.

“Offence has been taken by our recent involvement, for which we are deeply sorry. We have listened to a range of community views, we acknowledge this feedback and respect everyone’s individual opinions and beliefs.

“We have consequently cancelled the release of our Bible Society commemorative cans and will be taking steps to show further support for our community, including joining Australian Marriage Equality.”

The family owned brewery also uploaded a video featuring MD Tim Cooper and Melanie Cooper offering their apologies.

Tim Cooper said in the statement: “Our company’s guiding principles have centred around respect for others, and, as such, the recent activity surrounding the video made by the Bible Society has conflicted with our core values. Coopers never intended to make light of such an important issue, and would never and did not approve the making or release of the Bible Society video ‘debate’.”

His comments are somewhat at odds with those the Bible Society’s boss Clarke gave six days ago at the launch of the commemorative cans partnership.

Asked whether he anticipated controversy over Coopers’ partnership with the Bible Society, Clarke had replied: “I don’t think it’s risky. It’s a very special friendship we have.”

And at the same launch, Tim Cooper had been asked whether he thought there would be a negative response. He replied: “No, I don’t think so. I think people know we support a number of different causes and they might be surprised to know we support the Bible Society. All of us face choices in life. At some point in time we need to make an important choice in whether we believe in Jesus Christ.”

At the time of posting, Mumbrella had been unable to reach Sujet Sydney for comment.

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