Overjoyed animal activists are lauding Myer’s decision to cease its 40-year partnership with the Melbourne Cup’s ‘Fashions on the Field’ competition.
The fashion giant announced it would not be renewing the sponsorship, which has been going since 1983, because it no longer aligns with their ‘ongoing strategic objectives and marketing priorities’.
Activists and animal rights groups like the Animal Justice Party, which has two members in state parliament, flocked to social media to express their joy at the news.
They have publicly waged war against the racing industry, holding protests at the race that stops the nation over the past few years, including bizarre Squid Game-themed demonstrations and a race in a giant T-rex costume as they urged Australia to say ‘Nup to the Cup’.
Aussie model Imogen Anthony, who has previously called the Melbourne Cup ‘the real Halloween’ with ‘foul and narcissistic bulls**t’, applauded Myer’s decision.
Myer has ceased its nearly 40-year association with the Melbourne Cup and the Fashions on the Field event, which has been judged by celebrities like Jennifer Hawkins (left) and Rebecca Judd (right)
Model Imogen Anthony was one of many animal activists to applaud Myer’s decision
Horses in the 2022 Melbourne Cup make their way down the straight in front of a packed crowd at Flemington
‘About time! Thank you Myer,’ Anthony wrote on her Instagram stories.
It is a massive financial decision for the department store, with $422 million generated for the Victorian economy each year from the Melbourne Cup carnival.
That includes an astonishing $51.9million spent on retail and fashion.
Regardless, the department stor giant made the shock move with just four months to go until the Cup is held.
‘Fashion is at the heart of Myer, and we are incredibly proud of the contribution Myer has made to the Victoria Racing Club through our sponsorship that has spanned almost four fashionable decades,’ Myer CEO John King said in a statement.
‘While the decision not to renew the sponsorship was a difficult one, it aligns with our ongoing strategic objectives and marketing priorities.’
‘We have no doubt the VRC will deliver an exceptional 2023 Melbourne Cup Carnival, as we continue to bring our customers the latest trends for the upcoming spring racing season.’
The Victorian Racing Club, which runs the famous event at Flemington, insisted it was full steam ahead for the hugely popular ‘Fashions on the Field’ event, despite another naming sponsor not yet being secured.
A Fashions on the Field contestant struts down the runway in 2019, when Myer still sponsored the event
The Melbourne Cup has long been Australia’s most profitable sporting event
‘The Melbourne Cup Carnival is synonymous with fashion, and for decades that meant Myer,’ VRC CEO Steve Rosich said in a statment.
‘It has been an enduring and prolific partnership, recognised globally and responsible for creating some of the most iconic fashion moments at Flemington.
‘We have valued Myer’s longstanding support and wish them well for their future endeavours and look forward to delivering a magical Melbourne Cup carnival this year.’
After celebrating its 60th anniversary last year, the fashion event which attracts people from all over the world will still involve major-prize sponsor Lexus, which gives a car to each of the two main category winners.
The partnership, which is understood to have been worth around $2million a year at its peak, has become smaller in recent years.
The Myer marquee, which cost $1000 per guest every day of the carnival, was axed in 2018, with the company’s only involvement then becoming just the fashion event.
(L-R) Jodi Gordon, Jennifer Hawkins, Kris Smith, Rachel Finch and Rebecca Judd at the Myer Marquee in 2017 – which was then the hottest ticket in town
Liam Hemsworth and mother Leonie at the Myer Marquee on Melbourne Cup Day in 2010
With names like Jennifer Hawkins, Rebecca Judd, Jerry Hall and milliner to the Royal Family, Stephen Jones, involved with Myer and the event in recent years, it remains to be seen if the event will retain its allure.
Myer’s decision to end its partnership with the event it is synonymous with continues a trend of fashion brands and stores distancing themselves from horse racing.
Rival David Jones ended its sponsorship of the Caulfield Cup in 2019, with a host of other designers removing references to racing and the time-honoured spring carnival in their marketing in order to avoid any sort of cancel culture.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) celebrated their win in a lengthy social media post.
‘This (Myer ending sponsorship) comes after years of solid campaigning by CPR directed at the department store to stop glamourising the ugly business of gambling and animal abuse,’ the organisation said.
‘We hosted demonstrations outside the store, coordinated letter writing campaigns, developed our ’10 Reasons Why your Business Should Not Be Associated With Horse Racing’ educational outreach kit, and most fantastically, through our annual online ‘Hijack Myer Fashions on the Front Lawn’ action.
‘So many of you posted fab photos of yourselves saying #nuptothecup from the absolutely divine, to the hilarious, to the grotesque and the outrageous.
‘You all told Myer in many different ways to say #nuptothecup and they’ve finally listened.’
Mark Zahra salutes the crowd after winning the 2022 Melbourne Cup aboard Gold Trip
Police arrest a horse racing protester outside Flemington in 2021. Activists have been happy to learn on Myer’s decision
‘Big thank you to Myer for ending their sponsorship of and support of the Melbourne Cup after 40 years! This is monumental news and signifies another huge step toward shutting down this industry altogether,’ the NSW arm of the Animal Justice Party wrote on social media.
Animal Liberation Queensland also shared their delight at the news, imploring the government to listen.
‘After 40 years, Myer has pulled the pin on their sponsorship of the Melbourne Cup,’ the organisation posted.
‘Myer understands that supporting horse racing – an industry that routinely causes animal suffering and deaths – is no longer fashionable or popular. Isn’t it time our government caught up?’
‘Businesses are recognising it is important not to be associated with activities which exploit and endanger animals. Good on Myer,’ commented the Animal Justice Party of New Zealand.
A number of activists also applauded Myer’s decision.
A bizarre Squid Game-themed protest hit the Melbourne Cup in 2021
Animal activists wearing T-rex costumes race outside Flemington last year in another bizarre anti-racing demonstration
‘That is a huge step in the right direction and an indication that the message is FINALLY getting through … it proves that animal activism does work,’ said one, with another commenting: ‘Thank you, Myer … Humanity must prevail in a civilised society.’
‘Bravo, Myer! Thank you for STOPPING sponsorship of the Melbourne Cup. Entertainment should NOT involve animal cruelty. Horse racing kills: It is not a sport and not sporting. Horses are injured, maimed and die for profit,’ said a third.
It’s unlikely to ever effect the running of the race, which is 162 years old and is the world’s richest two-mile race.
It’s due to be run on Tuesday, November 7 later this year at the famous Flemington Racecourse.