A Japanese restaurant in Sydney has been criticised for taking advantage of the solemn memorial day by sending an email to its patrons with a flyer using the words “Anzac Day” and “Lest we forget”, advertising its ANZAC Day opening hours. George Fisher, honorary secretary from the City of Sydney Returned Services League (the Australia equivalent of the RSA), was highly critical of the move.
"Businesses that do this are flogging the system. They need to be pulled into line," he said. "They're saying 'Lest we forget ... and also bring your money with you because we need it'. It's a bit naughty, isn't it? They are obviously taking advantage of something which is very sacred to everyone."
However, Toko manager Paul Birtwistle has fought back, arguing that it was customer demand which led to the email and that it was not exploitative in any way.
"You will see from our flyer that we certainly do not offer 'promotions', nor promote our venue other than by letting our customers know that we are open,” he said. “Should you visit our restaurant, you will not see Anzac related posters or advertising. Every year in the lead-up to Anzac Day, we receive multiple inquiries from our patrons asking whether or not we are open for dinner on Anzac Day. To assist our guests, we send an email to our database prior, to let them know that we are open for dinner only."
Australian businesses have a fractious relationship with ANZAC advertising – in 2015, Woolworths was forced to end a controversial campaign which featured the slogan “Fresh in our Memories” over the images of former soldiers.