The Gloria Jean’s coffee company is taking a hammering today on Twitter – the latest social media fail for the café brand since word of its hefty donations to religious causes with antigay activities spread.
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 funds (or funded) the Australian Christian Lobby, Family First, Hillsong church, Mercy Ministries, Jesus Racing, Hope 103.2 Christian radio and a plethora of other homophobic, fundamentalist and Christian causes. That kind of hatred is not respectable these days.
When the firm was roundly excoriated for the $30k donation to the rabidly gay-obsessed ACL, the firm put its very best Social Media Expert Gurus on the case. On Facebook, Gloria Jean’s ignored any mention of another donation, one of $10k to anti-gay party Family First. They lied about their affiliation with Hillsong. They 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.
The Internet was not impressed, and the outraged comments continue to flood onto every Gloria Jeans Facebook 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 exploited charities such as Variety 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 Social Media manager 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 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.
This article first appeared on Dave the Happy Singer’s blog and is reposted here with kind permission.