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Media and marketing

Tales from SA's iced coffee marketing wars

Media and marketing

In this week’s column, dirty tricks from Adelaide’s iced coffee wars, the demographics of Adelaide radio listeners, a Crows-Power marketing cross-fertilisation, and much more.

Inside Adelaide’s iced coffee marketing wars

Back in the 1990s, Dairy Vale made a brave – and foolish – attempt to knock off the state’s champion beverage, Farmers Union Iced Coffee.

Despite throwing a huge marketing budget at South Australia, including recruiting then football caller Rex Hunt to front a campaign, DV Iced Coffee never took off for a number of reasons that can now be revealed.

The two marketing men behind the brands at the time – Trevor Pomery for Farmers Union, and Patrick Baker for Dairy Vale – have long moved on to other jobs. But they got together this week at the request of the Adelaide Show Podcast to relive the iced coffee wars.

And what a revealing chat it was.

Pomery, now with Golden North, reveals the battles he had with his Victorian head office to maintain the brand image, which had achieved enormous loyalty and sales among South Australian blue-collar workers.

He says at one point his head office even wanted to change the iconic name to “Pura” Iced Coffee.

“I said ‘no’ – over my dead body you’re doing that.”

Baker, who now runs his own marketing company, describes the battle as a “frightening and emotional time” (with his tongue only slightly in his cheek).

He recalled conducting a blind taste test of DV and Farmers Union Iced Coffee at the Mitsubishi car plant, where one worker got particularly agitated when informed that he hadn’t been able to differentiate between the two.

“One of them called me a lying, greasy wog – I’m not sure what my European heritage had to do with any of that.”

Apart from the fanatical loyalty of Farmers Union drinkers, Baker had other problems, including an over-zealous accounts department which kept deleting outlets as quickly as the sales team was signing them on, and a factory that wasn’t geared up for growth and which produced a first shipment of plastic bottles where the labels simply slid off.

He also received death threats after some people misinterpreted the advertising tag line – “DV OK” – as a pro-domestic violence statement.

And then there were the dirty tricks.

Baker says retailers reported that DV-branded fridges had been stolen, or branding had been stripped and replaced with the opposition’s.

“My favourite was that when we finally did get facings (for retail fridges), what a certain company would do – and I won’t mention their name – they would come in and buy all of our stock, buy 100 per cent of our stock, and put it in the bin.”

Then they would offer to restock the fridge for free.

Pomery responded: “I don’t know what he’s talking about. We did buy stock and throw it away, but I don’t recall stealing fridges.”

On the modern marketing of Farmers Union Iced Coffee, Pomery isn’t convinced by changes to the long-standing brand.

“In my opinion it’s not being handled properly at the moment, and some of the things that have been done are totally against the old strategies that built it up in the first place.”

Listen to the full podcast here.

Radio ratings: age matters

On the surface, the first radio ratings survey of 2016 showed two clear winners – ABC 891 on the AM band, and Nova on FM.

In terms of audience share, they were the number one and two stations in Adelaide.

Dig deeper, though, and it shows an audience fragmented by age.

The leading station is different for each age group, apart from hit107 which does well in two different groups. Nova leads among  10 to 17-year-olds; hit107 among those aged 18 to 24; hit107 and Triple J share the honours with those aged 25 to 39; Triple-M leads in 40 to 54; Cruise in 55 to 64 and the ABC in 65+.

Given Adelaide’s ageing population, the ABC’s dominance in the oldest group should guarantee its continued ratings success.

The conundrum is for FIVEaa, which is being thrashed by the ABC and Cruise in the 55-64 age group, and solidly beaten by the ABC in the 65+ bracket.

FIVEaa’s experiment with harder news in breakfast – led by David Penberthy and Will Goodings – hasn’t worked so far, with the key shift losing ground.

By contrast, ABC 891’s Matthew Abraham and David Bevan are way out in front – garnering 18.9 per cent of the audience. This share is larger than any other breakfast program in Australia, besting the likes of Alan Jones’ show on Sydney’s 2GB and the Melbourne duo of Ross Stevenson and John Burns on 3AW.

Nova will be happy with this survey, though. As well as leapfrogging Mix102.3, Nova scored the biggest cumulative audience.

Seven’s hot streak

Seven’s Adelaide news team has made a roaring start to the ratings year, bolstered by a generally powerful ratings performance by Seven.

It seemed at the end of last year that a cashed-up Nine news team had a chance to end Seven’s long era of dominance.

However, that hope seems as far off as ever, with Seven handing out a spanking to its 6pm rivals.

On Wednesday night this week, for example, Seven nearly doubled Nine’s audience from 6-6.30pm, racking up 141,000 viewers compared to Nine’s 73,000.

ABC’s 7pm bulletin is regularly pulling in more viewers than Nine news.

Cornes and Sloane

Former Port Adelaide footballer Kane Cornes and his wife Lucy have joined with current Crows star Rory Sloane and his partner Belinda Riverso to launch a slick “lifestyle” website – Cornes and Sloane.

The site launched this week, promising “a digital magazine and video platform, connecting leading brands and influencers, to create authentic and useful content”.

It’s a marketing site – no doubt – with ad features for a range of products, including a boxing gym, Scott Salisbury Homes, and a tennis product.

Lucy Cornes has already shown herself to be an adept online marketer, with her online shopping digital mag, She Shopped.

Naughty corner

There was yet another reminder this week of the way the state’s ICAC legislation takes power away from journalists.

As InDaily reported on Wednesday, former Labor minister Jennifer Rankine used parliamentary privilege to launch a blistering attack on The Australian’s local bureau chief Michael Owen over a ruling against him by the Press Council. Rankine alleged that the Press Council process revealed a series of articles by Owen were concerned with an ICAC investigation, and therefore were in breach of the ICAC Act’s secrecy provisions. She promised to refer the matter to the SA Police for prosecution.

No-one would – or could – comment on the story: neither Owen, nor his newspaper, nor the state Attorney-General, nor the SA Police who pointed out that “legislative requirements prevent anyone from making comment about this matter”.

Of course, there is a class of South Australians who can comment freely on ICAC investigations – politicians speaking under the mantle of parliamentary privilege.

Top of the class

Serial winner Four Corners has again pulled off a nationally important investigation in conjunction with Fairfax.

This week’s program, “Money for Nothing”, exposed the insurance wing of the Commonwealth Bank, CommInsure, for its unscrupulous tactics in avoiding insurance payouts. Watch it here.

Media Week is published on Fridays.

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