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Woolworths runs into Christian backlash on Facebook

When it comes to social media and successful brands, the cautionary phrase “Be careful what you wish for” should always be front of mind. It’s wonderful to have thousands of empowered vocal customers when they are happy, but when you do something to anger them, then the possibility of a PR-disaster is never far away.

Case in point…South Africa’s prestigious Woolworths retail chain announced this week it would no longer be selling Christian magazines in-store. A letter from Woolworths to its retailers explained the decision: “Woolworths has taken a business decision to no longer stock any religious magazines, with immediate effect. We have already given all our shops directives to remove religious titles from shelves.”

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The decision was not taken lightly by some of the 33 000 people who are fans of the brand on Facebook.

Comments are pouring onto the Facebook page, ranging from the inflammatory…

I feel that woolworths did not reject christian magazines they actually rejected God and as it says in the Bible that who so ever rejects God shall be rejected by God so if ever sometime in future it does not go well with Woolworths then you will know what the reason is.

to the outraged….

This is an assault on evangelistic Christianity. We need to stand up and be counted as Christians.

to the well-argued….

Its deplorable and disgusting that Woolworths would continue to market and use Christian celebrations like Christmas to make money and get customers but would ban Christian magazines from its shelves.

Of course, when religion rears its controversial head, it doesn’t take long for the talk to turn controversial. Christian-bashing has begun on Facebook and Twitter, attacks on other religions, fire-breathing evangelism, and comedic defences of dagga-cookies..it’s all there and live on the Woolworths Facebook page.

Woolworths CEO Simon Susman told Beeld newspaper that it was against the store’s policy to sell religious and political magazines. “We are currently reviewing all magazines sold by Woolworths. We will continue to remove magazines from our shelves that aren’t popular with clients. We aim not to offend any community by this policy,” said Susman.

This is not exactly the kind of marketing that Woolworths was hoping for as the Christmas marketing machine begins to gear up.

Welcome to the wonderful world of social media.

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