Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Reef N' Beef", and one hell of a disgusting sign

So I'm using this platform again for a rant that is not of the feminist variety. I promise, at this point in time I have nine half-written women-focussed pieces, and I will finish and post one of them soon. In the meantime though, I'd like to draw the attention of those wonderful people who do read my blog to this brilliant piece of signage out of Denmark.

This was snapped by one of my Uni friends when he was recently in Copenhagen Airport. He posted it on Facebook for opinion on what he thought was the use of rather racist imagery and immediately I asked if I could pinch it. Naturally, the majority of people who commented on my Facebook post found it similarly racist and offensive. Indeed, some of us actually took the time to write the business an email informing them of such. I am yet to get a response to my email, but one of my good friends did and whilst an amiable response, it did seem to insinuate that she had misinterpreted the idea behind the campaign as it was merely a marrying of the "traditional" with the "contemporary", and was not meant to be anything other than that. The email also showed no indication that they were going to take action on the points she had raised.

My own email was open in tone and educating in its pitch. I took the stance that perhaps Reef N' Beef were naive of just how loaded this image could be. I mentioned Gillard's "rivers of grog" and stereotypes of drunkenness. I highlighted notions of "authenticity" and stereotyping when it comes to Aboriginal appearance. I mentioned the use of images of someone who has passed away and what that can mean from a religious point of view. And thusfar: nada, zip, zero. So I was initially prepared to wait patiently until they found it in their hearts to respond to me when the plot thickened...

You see, this is not the first time Reef N' Beef have been informed by mob that this image is offensive. Indeed, it was brought to their attention a couple of years ago by some strong and intelligent people from the community and I cannot imagine that those people would have minced words, nor would they have been remotely unclear in expressing the issues of this image. Not only that, but this solo sign which my attention was drawn to is actually not solo at all. According to other reports from mobs, this image is all over the buses of Copenhagen and at other public sites. I repeat: this image is everywhere despite the fact that Reef N' Beef have been told it is offensive over the past two or so years by the very people that it is supposed to represent. Consider me utterly disgusted.

So stuff waiting around for my polite email response! In light of the fact that Reef N' Beef are either extraordinarily slow learners or they simply do not give a shit that their advertising is offensive no matter how many times they are told, I am posting it up here on my own platform. It is bad enough that Aboriginal people have to deal with knuckle-dragger racism in our own country but to see it overseas is just something else, PARTICULARLY when the business in question has been educated on the issues. Please feel free to send Reef N' Beef an email, give them a call, or share this around so that others are aware. The contact details will be below.

Reef N' Beef Website - Link
Reef N' Beef Facebook - Link 
Reef N' Beef Twitter - @ReefBeefDK
Phone: 33 33 00 30
Fax: 33 33 08 38

Oh, and let me know if you get a response! Bonus points to those who post them in the comments section ;)


  1. Great article Celeste and well done for following this up. Its Pretty poor by them but just seems like typical white capitalist ignorance without being overtly racist to me. Certainly I think it is disrespectful but ultimately their motivation is about making money. I.e., they really couldn't care less about us Aborigines over the other side of the world.

  2. To the management of:

    Reef N' Beef
    Jernbanegade 4
    1608 KĂžbenhavn V
    Tlf: 33 33 00 30
    Fax: 33 33 08 38

    Your slogan should be European Vile Racism not Australian Fine Dining

    Despite being informed by numerous Aboriginal people that your advertising
    is clearly racist you have refused to apologise and withdraw the offensive

    You have claimed that you are comining the traditional with the
    contemporary. However this is ingenious considering you are just showing
    traditional European with traditional Aboriginal or "Australian" images.

    A more likely explanation therefore if one considers the traditional and
    contemporary, you are upholding European traditions of racism and white

    We will not enter now any further into the problematics of the imagery or
    indeed the theft of the image, of the individual's privacy, of the theft
    and continual theft and genocide perpetuated by European powers.

    We simply warn you clearly to repeal the imagery and apologise forthwith.

    You have been warned.

    DAta Miners Travailleurs Psychique

  3. Keep in mind: Australians are their sales gimmick, not their market. They are unlikely to care about angry letters from people who weren't their customers anyway.

    Bad publicity in Denmark, and/or bad reviews from customers offended by the imagery, might be more effective. The language barrier is a problem, but some of the organisations here might be interested:

  4. Until about five years ago (might be out by a year or so), one of the biggest steak house chains in the US, Outback Steakhouse, had an item on their menu called Blooming Onion, the subheading was 'an Ab-Original'. It was a funny moment of thinking wow, this place is so out of touch with anything Australian - for instance, having not a single item on the menu that didn't look exactly like an American steakhouse - not even a pavlova - made me think that they didn't think about Australia as anything other than a gimmick. But, I guess I still want to challenge it, because their audience is surprised that it's not Australian (or they think that they are having Australian food that just happens to taste like every other American steakhouse) and they sold and bought that idea. Somehow the Ab-Original thing went off the menu (I had complained pretty bitterly about it at the time and on what social networking was around then). Then when this blew up a few years ago (and a few years later from the first one), I began to wonder if it's belligerence and not just ignorance. Seeing that they are not only still doing it, but that they claim connection to supposedly ethical organisations here in Australia (read their About Us section) makes me think that it's a bit more than just not knowing or caring. It seems a bit too active for that and definitely too persistent.

    1. Have to agree re: belligerence. The response that my friend received said it all. I mean they were sorry that she had interpreted their sign that way as it wasn't their intention, and the sign was part of a cycle of signs that mix the traditional with the contemporary. So really, it was all her fault. And all my fault. And all everyone else's faults before then. They want to use the culture to flog food, but they definitely do not want to learn how to do so ethically. They don't actually care at all.

    2. I realised I had to challenge some of my own prejudices here too... I really did (and this is about as ethnocentric as you can get) think that Scandinavian people (yeah I know, there isn't any such thing) were somehow more progressive and not oppressive. And this reminded me of how naff and dodgy that premise was... clearly!

  5. Hello,

    I arrived at CPH Airport yesterday after a weekend trip to London. And I saw this signage. I was in shock! It is written RACISM all over it. In Sweden there is a place where one can make complaints about offensive marketing, and I wonder whether anyone has done that in Denmark. I am going to try and find out where one can make a complaint because this is just terrible. I cannot believe that in 2013, people are allowed to use racism when promoting a company.

  6. Hello,

    I wrote to a place called the Danish Consumer Ombudsman.
    This was their reply:

    We acknowledge receipt of your email of 4 March 2013 concerning marketing of the restaurant ‘Reef’nBeef’ which in your opinion is racist.

    As a general rule, discrimination on the basis of race is not allowed, cf. section one of the Danish Marketing Practices Act on the principle of good marketing practice.

    However, it is the Consumer Ombudsman’s viewpoint that it is not entirely clear whether the marketing material in question can be considered racist.

    Kind regards

    Birgitte Wested

    Office of the Consumer Ombudsman
    Tel: +45 4171 5036

  7. I also saw this sign at Copenhagen airport. My first reaction was to laugh out loud as I couldn't believe that someone would actually think it was O.K. to put this up.
    I am not Aboriginal but was very disappointed to see something that was so obviously wrong and depicted this man in such a way and more than likely without his permission.
    I did not eat at this restaurant.
    I have read the posts of people writing to this restaurant and not getting much of a reply.
    My approach would be to write this information up on the travel website tripadvisor drawing peoples attention to the advertisement.
    Individual letters may or may not get individual answers.
    Attention on a widely read website may get a more positive response as it may affect their business in a more direct way.
    Frank Anderson