Santorini’s landscape is scattered with white buildings and blue roofs which overlook the Aegean Sea in a scene which attracts droves of photo-snapping tourists each year. Among the abundance of picturesque buildings is the Anastasis Church.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that Lidl chose to feature the stunning church on its packaging of ‘Eridanous’-branded Greek food products, in an effort to make the products esthetically pleasing and enticing for shoppers.
However, the supermarket’s shoppers soon noticed something was missing from the picture: the cross that sits on top of the church.
It didn’t take long for them to take to social media to express their anger across Lidl’s various Facebook pages.
“For the Greeks it’s insulting,” one person wrote on Lidl’s Belgium page. “Shameful and cowardly,” the person added, after demanding an explanation from the supermarket chain.
Lidl’s UK group – which featured the packaging in a promotional ‘Greek Week’ video last month – also received its fair share of backlash.
“How very disappointing to see your marketing team have decided to airbrush the crosses from the domes of the Greek Orthodox churches. This is a huge insult to Christians worldwide who have identified with the cross since the formation of the early Church. I fail to see what you had hoped to accomplish, we will not be shopping at Lidl until the crosses have been restored. Did you think such a change would go unnoticed or did you think people didn’t care enough to complain?” Lidl shopper Lennox Moore wrote.
“…As a Greek and a Christian I’m totally disgusted with Lidl as I find this an insult to our faith. I am a member of a Greek group with 8000 members on Facebook and have notified them about this and told them to share and to let other Greeks and Christians know what you are doing,” Facebook user Andrew Kanias wrote.
Some customers also pointed out that some of the Halal meat products sold by Lidl appear to show buildings with minarets – a piece of Islamic religious architecture, accusing the supermarket of double standards.
Facebook user Daisy Matthews asked Lidl why it was “erasing the reality from a photo,” while also telling the supermarket that she wouldn’t have a problem buying packaging which showed symbols of other religions.
“If there were products from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, or Muslim countries with their symbols depicted on there I wouldn’t have a problem buying them.
“As a Christian I feel really hurt, discriminated against, upset and disappointed that you have done this, if it is the case I won’t be shopping at your store anymore.”
Lidl has responded to the criticism by telling RT that there was no “evil intent” behind the packaging.
“We have been selling our popular Eridanous range for over 10 years in our stores all over Europe. During this time there were always changes to the packaging design. We are very sorry that the current design makes for displeasure, there is no evil intent behind it. We will pass on the feedback and take this into account when designing future packaging,” a spokesperson told RT.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson told Belgian TV station RTL that the supermarket is merely trying to remain religiously “neutral.”
“We avoid the use of religious symbols on our packaging to maintain neutrality in all religions,” the spokesperson said.
“If it has been perceived differently, we apologize to those who may have been shocked.”
It’s not the first time that Lidl has made headlines for a topic that wasn’t related to groceries. In May, Italian police put four of the supermarket’s management offices under state control as part of a mafia swoop, alleging that the Laudani clan – part of Sicily’s ‘Cosa Nostra’ crime syndicate – had infiltrated the offices. However, Lidl itself is not suspected of any wrongdoing, and maintains its innocence.