Coopers Brewery was forced to drop a billboard ad in 2008 urging beer lovers to 'Forget the monarchy, support the publicans' beside an image of a frothy schooner of beer after it angered supporters of the Queen.
The billboard was believed to have been part of a national advertising campaign, but it was unknown how many of them were in use around Australia. Although the advertisement had received prior approval from the Advertising Standards Board, the cheerless teacup warriors from the Australian Monarchist Legaue still wrote to the brewery with their concerns and the advertisement was withdrawn.
"Initially on seeing it I thought that it might be humorous, but then I recognised that as people drive into the car park all they're going to see is 'forget the monarchy' ", Australian Monarchist League national chairman Phillip Benwell told AAP. Benwell argued it was a political statement and felt that using the phrase crossed a boundary. Why not say 'Forget the republicans', he bleated.
A Coopers representative responded to the League, "It was not our intention to attack the monarchy nor in any way was it a political statement. It was an advertisement designed to demonstrate that we are not buying into the debate but instead supporting the people and businesses (publicans) that are important to us."
It was interesting that Cooper's and its advertising agency seemed genuinely surprised that anyone would take offence at the billboard ad. Most Australians like a bit of humour and larrikinism in their politics. It is the cheerless monarchists who are out of step with contemporary Australia.
Benwell and his cheerless cohort really do appear to be doing a King Canute and futilely commanding the republican tide not to come in. "Some people might think we are being a bit precious, but if we don't take a stand these things will continue", Benwell said. The absurdity of their demand to have a beer billboard removed can be heard in their shrill voices screeching "We are on the watch for these type of things". King Canute couldn't control nature and nor can Benwell dampen the roar from the coming republican tide.