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New Zealand’s great marketing idea

Ray Beatty
Herald Sun
March 30, 2012

Monteith’s marketing campaign for their apple cider has provoked reaction around the world.

YOU’VE all heard the story of “There’s a fly in my soup” or “There’s a finger in my pie!” Well how about, “There’s a twig in my cider”?

Not only that, but the foreign body was deliberately inserted by the advertising team. It happened in New Zealand to the product Monteith’s Cider. It’s a nice example of out-of-the-box thinking – or should I say “into the box”?

The brief to Colenso BBDO was to sell cider in a crowded drinks market, as usual with too little funds. But they applied their grey matter to identify what was special about their product. The client had told them that it was one of the few ciders made wholly from real apples, as opposed to concentrate and pulp.

Now, we are all aware of what happens when a foreign body is found in food. The health authorities are alerted, the papers report it, the talkback runs hot. So our team members decided to use this reflex for the marketing. They put twigs of apple tree into the product.

Oh, not into the bottle let me reassure you – that would have been illegal. They dropped a couple of twigs into each six-pack box of cider. Sure enough the complaints started coming into the brewery’s exchange: “I found twigs in my cider pack”, “What are you going to do about it?” No doubt callers hoped for some compensation for the “error”.

They called the radio stations and the newspapers and soon the country was buzzing with this “contamination” story. At which point Monteith launched its newspaper and poster campaign.

Headline: “Sorry about the twigs, folks”. The ads then went on to explain, “Because we use real apples in our cider, you may find real twigs in this box.” And everywhere big labels: “Not from concentrate”.

They’re talking about this campaign as far away as London and New York. Don’t you love those little brain bubbles that turn into global ideas? Of course, it has to happen in the right place at the right time.

For cider the time is now. All of a sudden this little bottom-of-the-shelf drink has come into its own. IBISWorld Research reports that in the past five years Australian cider sales have jumped 19 per cent every year.

Our beer consumption is at a 60-year low, yet last year cider sales increased by more than 30 per cent — which on the chart looks like the trajectory of a rocket ship.

The theory is that cider is finding its own middle ground. Less bitter than beer, less alcoholic than wine, it has carved a refreshment niche. While it was long looked at as a girls’ drink, it is now appealing increasingly to men. And the advertising campaigns are encouraging this.

Cider comes from olde England, the traditional West Country drink. Until recently the market was declining to perilous depths. Then along came Magners Irish Cider with a funny, catchy campaign running the slogan: “There’s method in the Magners”.

It was positioned as a sophisticated drink over crushed ice and sales took off – 250 per cent in a year. Pulled in the wake came other small ciders, and the big ones as well. Now cider is cool – in the UK and in Australia, too.

Foster’s, Lion Nathan and the other brewers are pumping out new cider brands as fast as they can grow the apples. Pubs and retailers are making more space on their shelves and among their pumps for the emerging brands.

So if you find a twig in your drink, ignore it.

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