Retailer Harvey Norman put on the spot, activists struggle to combat big business’ influence


Giant retailer Harvey Norman has been ‘discovered’, according to activist organision Get Up, using old growth Australian timber for export to China where it is assembled into the cheap furniture for re-import into Australia and sale in their stores.

Leaving aside the unsustainable nature of this arrangement, it hardly sounds like supply chain efficiency, and one wonders at the economics that would make such tortuous double-handling work.

Anyway, what’s got GetUp riled up is that in response to the story they produced a pastiche TV commercial which has been refused classification by the TV industry body FreeTV… which represents all of Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licensees…which derive tens of millions of dollars each year from Harvey Norman’s insistently awful advertising.

So GetUp are using social media to spread the commercial instead. Here it is.

And here’s the associated website which allows people to spread the campaign….Get-Up is very good at this approach to issues which it has more or less templated over the course of the pat 5 years.

However, I wonder if there’s more to this than meets the eye. Despite Get Up’s tone of voice it’s pretty safe to assume that Harvey Norman buys the timber legally, and its availability can’t be blamed on the retailer. And although I’m no lawyer, I do suspect that FreeTV may have had legitimate ‘passsing off’ concerns about the pastiche ad based on its heavy use of Harvey Norman trademark components. This one is destined to be discussed in parliament – watch with interest.

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