We all adore our Vegemite

We all adore our Vegemite

When I started at the University of Melbourne in 2000, the Pro-Life Society was all but defunct.

The requisite sum of on-paper members ensured it stayed on the Union’s books, because if its registration ceded there was no way the Union’s office-bearers would permit its revival. But there were no active members. The club was a spent force. Why? Because the radical feminist groups on campus had realised that if they ignored the Pro-Life Club, its raison d’etre — not to mention its profile — would wane.

By the time I graduated in 2005 the Pro-Life Club was resurgent. Why? Marcel White — a savvy (and über-provocative) law student — had become president and goaded the radical feminist groups to such an extent that the Pro-Life Club was roundly condemned at student protests and repeatedly attacked in the pages of Farrago. The number of members dutifully multiplied.

There’s a lesson in this. An online advertising campaign started this week, which is embarrassingly transparent in its attempt to rouse religious ire.

Catholics could oblige and raise their voices in indignation. That’s a great way to make ourselves feel better, but it also ensures the campaign’s success, and could even encourage similar endeavours in the future.

Or Catholics can ignore it. That doesn’t feel so good, but it will do more good.

In the meantime, I’m gonna go buy some Vegemite. There’s nothing better than a load of butter and a scrape of Vegemite on toast!

  • Florence

    Fr John, I thought adoration was reserved for the Lord alone. Well, I do not like vegemite. I am sorry.

  • Joel

    I’m confused. What ad campaign?

    • Most Facebook users will know exactly what I’m talking about. Many others won’t, and I for one am loathe to give it publicity.

      Kate Edwards provides more detail, though I maintain her advice will only ensure the ad’s notoriety, and therefore its success. (Note that the company has issued apologies but not withdrawn the video. They’re still waiting for it to become viral. Hopefully, that won’t happen.)

      My advice is to buy some Vegemite and be done with it. (Even if you don’t eat it, Florence, it will last in your pantry forever. Someone will ask for it some day!)

  • Dear Father,

    I did consider ignoring it for the reasons you suggest.

    But even though the whole thing clearly is intended to get a rise out of us and generate publicity for themselves, there have been more than few successes via social media of late that has, I think, taught at least some retailers (such as Target) and others that the old adage that there is no such thing as bad publicity no longer holds true.

    And I think a line in the sand needs to be drawn on the increasing number of these kind of anti-catholic attacks (not to mention the double standard that applies when it comes to anything related to Islam).

    • Indeed, it’s far from clear cut Kate. Maybe a vocal objection is the right way to go. In this case it might have worked. Aussiemite apologised and withdrew the ad faster than I expected. Having said that, I have no doubt an apology was always an intended part of the ad campaign, since it adds to the notoriety and fuels a viral video.

      The campaign may be officially suspended, but the video is still out there in cyberspace. Happily, however, it hasn’t taken off. At this point, the unofficial versions of the video have attracted less than 6,000 views.

  • Fr Mick Mac Andrew

    I remember as an ‘enlightened’ Catholic in the 1980’s and 90’s being amused at TV shows such as Fr Ted, Oh Brother, Vicar of Dibley etc etc. Then, in the 00’s I was alarmed at the volume and intensity of shows which featured (and still do) Catholic priests as agents of evil. There was no one left to protest from the group, to counteract the damage being done to the whole. And now we can have the ABC on its news programs distort facts about the Church and not give our spokespeople the right of reply, let alone unedited comments. I refuse to give any radio interviews now that are not live and use only blogs and comments sections to protect the integrity of what I’m wanting to say. Even with our own so called catholic sites, Eureka Street to mention one, when I wrote an article the heading they gave was a complete distortion.

    I ‘m looking forward to such groups as Catholic Voices and the Sydney version providing a way forward for us.

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