Fair dinkum Australian brands

Australian Flag

It’s Australia Day tomorrow. Time to celebrate living in this beautiful country. Time to enjoy a barbecue with friends. And time to look at some of the iconic brands that “still call Australia home”.

I couldn’t resist throwing in part of the Australian classic “I Still Call Australia Home”.

Now on with the blog …

First to Vegemite. You’ll find it in most Australian households either for frequent use or to have on hand for the overseas visitors.

I have personally only acquired the taste for Vegemite in the past few years but now don’t have to be worried about being found to be un-Australian. The only problem is a need to avoid the word c-word in the world: carbs (so vegemite on toast is off limits most days!!)

Before we look at the good. Let’s look at the not so good. iSnack 2.0. Where do I plug it in? How many batteries does it take? Will it play my podcasts? The brand copped a lot of flack over the decision to tinker with the classic taste and the name. After much public outcry, Kraft soon dropped the name and moved on to better things.

Now they’re back with another attempt to win Australians over with a name change. This time, they’ve opted for the name Australia. Watch out for the limited edition jars featuring a red Australian flag and Australia on the label. They’ll make any overseas visitor enjoy the taste even more.

The name change isn’t Vegemite’s only campaign to cash in on Australia Day. They are also celebrating Australia Day with special limited edition Vegemite jars featuring 10 remarkable but everyday Australians in the “Toast of a Nation”. It reminds me a little of the stamp series launched by Australia post back in the late 90s – remember?

I think both campaigns have turned out well and I am even considering rushing out and buying one or two of the limited edition jars. Thankfully they remembered to include Tasmania on their map of Australia, unlike Shapes.

That’s enough of a spread on Vegemite, now onto some other iconic Australian brands.

Hands up if you haven’t (at one point or another) had a hills hoist in your back yard? If not, put the mouse down and head off to Bunnings to check one out.

I can remember many hours spent with grandma hanging clothes on her hills hoist. And because of the set up of her back yard, we were able to jump on at the low point and fly around.

It’s one of many great Australian inventions and has become a symbol of Australia in many artistic works. It’s also a great example of a brand that spread like wildfire and came to represent a whole category of products. It’s our very own Xerox.

Another classic Australian brand is Bonds. Hands up (I know it’s starting to feel like we’re in a classroom) if you have never owned a pair of Bonds undies or a Chesty Bonds singlet? Now owned by Pacific Brands, the company has continued to produce a range of popular products. They company has also had its share of controversy with a large number of jobs moving overseas.

Australian tennis player Pat Rafter and model Sarah Murdoch have both promoted the brand in recent years.

I’m a Queenslander so I couldn’t let this post past without a reference to Bundaberg Rum and XXXX. Both brands are as Queensland as the Broncos and sunshine.

Last but not least, we can’t write a post about iconic Australian brands without mentioning Qantas. The “Spirit of Australia” has helped millions of people fly around this vast country of ours to weddings, concerts, business meetings and so the list goes on. As well as being a pioneering Australian company, they’ve also survived a number of other Australian airlines and dealt with a number of crises including the recent grounding of their entire fleet.

And who can talk about Qantas without thinking about the Qantas choir and their renditions of Peter Allen’s “I Still Call Australia Home”.

Here are some c-word brands to think about on Australia Day:

  • Caramello Koala – 40 million sold in Australia each year
  • Carlton & United Breweries – call in for a Carlton at our friends at Meyers Place
  • Cascade Brewery – image adopted for its label in 1987, H. C. Richter’s 19th century illustration of the now extinct Tasmanian Tiger
  • Castlemaine Perkins – producers of XXXX (see above)
  • Chiko Roll – inspired by the Chinese egg roll and spring rolls
  • Clag (glue) – feels cold to touch and when applied to paper, it sometimes alters the colour of what is on it and causes paper to warp
  • Claytons – non-alcoholic Australian beverage
  • Coon cheese – available in every supermarket around Australia
  • Coopers Brewery – yet another Australian beer brand
  • Cottee’s – my dad picks the fruit that goes to …
  • Crown Lager – originally only available to visiting dignitaries but we can thank the Queen for making it available to the public
  • Crown Pilsner – yet another Australian beer

From everyone at the c word, have a wonderful Australia Day.


Jack & the c word crew


Words flow at Melbourne’s 26th Writers Festival

People inspect the MWF programs
People inspect the MWF programs

Grab out your pens and pencils, freshen up your ink well, pick up a fresh sheet of writing paper (or perhaps a new writing pad) and head on down to Federation Square for the 26th Melbourne Writers Festival. The words will be flowing, with an exciting program of events, until Sunday 4 September.

Each year, MWF invites novelists, playwrights, poets, screenwriters, journalists, songwriters, bloggers – anyone who’s part of the world of words to join the conversation. The festival program features an enormous range of literary activity including entertaining discussions, debates, readings, film screenings, interviews, literary banquets, performances, workshops and book launches, as well as a lively schools’ program for primary and secondary students.

If you can’t be there in body, be there in spirit by following the adventures of five UNbloggers attending MWF events and writing about them on their blogs.

With so many great events to choose from we thought we’d share our top choices:

– 27 August – New news: reporting country style

– 2 September – Bookcamp: the story of the future

– 2 September – Walk: A-Z of Melbourne

– 4 September – Seminar: the art of non fiction

Check out the cool video created to advertise the festival below, and also view the films from the Festival’s Unbound film competition.


the c word crew

Inside Media House – PRIA members visit The Age and 3AW

Media House with The Age and 3AW
Media House with The Age and 3AW

“People don’t actually read newspapers. They step into them every morning like a hot bath.” – Communications theorist Marshall McLuhan

Whether you like your newspaper with your morning coffee or prefer to save it for the weekend lie in, there’s no denying that newspapers play an important role in our lives and the professional lives of communicators.

Last week, I put my presidential hat on (ok I don’t have a special hat but perhaps I should get one?) and joined 12 members of the Public Relations Institute of Australia for an exclusive tour of Media House with The Age and 3AW. Following the tour we sat down for lunch with three journalists from the paper.

Fellow PRIA member and Communications Manager for The Age, Miranda Schuppan, led the exclusive tour. She started at the epicentre of editorial operations – the modern newsroom with numerous journalists working across the day to produce news for print and online versions of The Age.

Shane Green a senior journalist with The Age talked through the various areas of the newsroom. He’s held a number of roles with the organisation and was happy to share his insights with our members.

We then huddled around the screen of theage.com.au editor, Daniel Sankey, and saw how quickly they were able to publish stories. If you think the back end of your website is impressive, consider how it would cope with hundreds of new stories a day and thousands of unique visitors a month. At the time they were just about to break a World Cup 2022 story.

Daniel told us about the peak times for online news viewing. They are 8am when people are arriving at work, lunchtime when people are munching on their sushi and a little before 5pm when they’re packing up to head home. Hands up if you head to theage.com.au at one or all of those times?

If you’re a regular visitor to theage.com.au you’ll know that video content is being used more and more. What you might not know is that it is produced at Media House. We were shown the well-equipped studio, which is just like a mini commercial television studio and is used for video interviews, panel discussions and other reports.

A few floors up, we met David Mann or “Mann about Town” as many people know him. He’s been at 3AW for many years and has held both on-air and behind the scene roles.

David shuffled us into one of the studios that was free at the time and provided the group with an insight into 3AW’s production process. He gave each of us some handy hints on working with the team at 3AW and answered many of our burning questions.

We also met some of the voices behind the news broadcasts and were delighted to learn that one of our fellow PRIA members, Keith Hainsworth from Deakin University, had started his career in the 3AW newsroom.

David showed us the impressive technology that keeps the station on air and said that the greatest technological advancement for radio was the invention of the mobile phone. He said that mobile phones have produced thousands of news reporters for radio stations. Effectively, every listener is a reporter, because when anything happens in Melbourne, they ring in immediately with first-hand accounts of the unfolding event.

Finally, David and Miranda gave us some great advice for preparing clients for radio and press interviews. Over lunch with Daniel Sankey, Shane Green and Laura Hamilton we spoke about a range of topics from what different sections cover to the best way to present stories to The Age and 3AW.

Here are some tips:

  • relationships with journalists are critical, particularly knowing what topics/rounds they cover
  • read something written by the journalist or listen to a show that you’re pitching to
  • make sure your pitch/story is newsworthy and pick an interesting angle
  • make sure you know what time of day is appropriate to call a journo or producer. And even pick the right minute to phone in. For example, don’t call a radio producer on the hour or half hour, because they’ll be listening to the news bulletin. Best time to call is quarter past or quarter to the hour.
  • always spell a journo or producer’s name correctly.

Finally, a big thanks to Miranda, David, Daniel, Shane and Laura for sharing their time with us and showing us around Media House.


Jack @ the c word

Fun runs, fashion parades and food festivals: the PR behind major events

Image courtesy of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival
Image courtesy of Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

It is amazing what you can learn from fun runs, fashion parades and food festivals. Three Melbourne communicators shared the excitement and challenges of managing PR for major events at a panel discussion in May.

The panel included Sally Brown from the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, Sharon Morris from the Mother’s Day Classic and Brooke Shell from Ann Morrison PR. Topics included measuring the success of major events, building relationships, sponsors, volunteering and planning.

Key points:

  • Planning is instrumental and starts 18 months in advance for major events
  • Managing relationships with volunteers, sponsors and attendees is a large part of the PR professional’s role
  • Measurement and reporting has become an extremely important part of major events communication

Brooke Shell says the media landscape has changed considerably in the five years she’s been working on L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. This year, they held their first bloggers conference and got a huge response. She also says media accreditation is a major part of large events. Both Sally and Brooke work on festivals with a large number of events in different locations, and agreed there was a lot of interest from local media who wanted stories about people and events in their area.

When asked about the importance of measuring the success of their events, the panel said it was important to not only get quantitative data but also qualitative information. Sally Brown said feedback helped improve future festivals and communication approaches.

On the topic of measurement and data, Sally Brown also said the Food and Wine Festival were able to track where people were when they bought their tickets and were seeing a large number of tourists from New Zealand. As a result, they now focus some of their communications on this market including New Zealand launches.

When asked about tips for smaller events, Sharon said people organising events in smaller communities should build strong relationships with local businesses. She also said councils can provide invaluable support – particularly helping shut down roads for fun runs.

Sharon, who runs multiple events around the country on the day of the run talked about the importance of volunteering. She has a very small team of paid professionals and relies on the support of volunteers.

All agreed they often needed to work on their work/life balance, particularly in the lead up to their events. Brooke Shell who is used to managing celebrities, models and fashion designers said she often reminds herself and colleagues that we work in PR not the ER. Sally Brown likens her job to triaging and says she’s learnt to focus on the big picture and not sweat the little stuff.

Here are some facts about the events Sally, Sharon and Brooke have worked on:

  • The Mother’s Day Classic is Australia’s largest charity fun run and has raised more than $7.8 million in past decade
  • The Melbourne Food and Wine Festival will celebrate its 20th Anniversary in 2012
  • L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival has been running since 1996

A carnival with a cup, champagne, celebrities and canapés

Mumm champagne

Quite literally Melbourne’s cup is overflowing with c-words.

From the start of the Spring Racing Carnival to the running of the 150th Melbourne Cup to the celebrities, corporates, champagne and canapes taking over the birdcage, there are c-words from Coburg to Cheltenham.

So here’s a look back at a week of c-words!

Firstly, the champagne’s flowing and Mumm’s the word or G.H. Mumm to be precise. The label, famous for its red ribbon, became the drink of choice at Flemington in 2010 after countless bottles of Moët et Chandon were consumed in years gone by. If there’s no show without punch, then there’s no horse racing without champagne. It’s the quintessential element of a day at the races … in fact it’s the quintessential element of any celebration. Mmmm Mumm!!

Then there’s Cummings. While Bart’s horse may not have delivered the result many punters were counting on, Cummings remains a true racing identity and we hope he’ll be around for many Cups to come. Along with other racing identities, Bart Cummings featured in a wonderful portrait exhibition at Crown, Photo Finish. If you haven’t checked it out yet, head along before it finishes on 7 November. And speaking of photos, I’ve loved the images of Melbourne Cup through the ages!

Now what would the cup week be without canapés? We’d all be blithering idiot because the champagne would have gone straight to our heads!! But whether you’re nibbling on tapas in the Spanish-themed Emirates marquee or partaking in some cheese and biscuits at a friend’s house, the snacks between sips are a critical ingredient of any celebration. And speaking of canapés and celebrations, there were plenty of chefs at the races with judges and contestants from Masterchef ready to sample and critique the various themed-foods as well as world famous chef’s in the kitchen.

That brings us to celebrities. Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival would be rather dull without the birdcage full of celebrities. Whether you’re a casually dressed singer jetting in for a relaxing afternoon or the daughter of Ozzy Osbourne, there’s a perch waiting for you on the first Tuesday of every November. Then there are perennial favourites like KAK (Kerri-Anne if you don’t know!), soap stars and football stars! And finally, there’s Her Excellency, The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce – a wonderful public speaker and always so well turned out.

And finally, where would we be without the coverage. Channel Seven kept the television viewers happy once again (although perhaps next year they could turn one of their three channels over to a show dedicated to what’s happening around the track?? Food for thought!) While Bruce and Joanna led the television coverage, scores of print journalists braved the wet to bring us all the colour and movement.

And finally hats off to the wonderful work of the PR teams at VRC and the myriad of sponsors and supporters.

If I had to choose a favourite piece of coverage it would be The Australian’s review of the marquees!

OK, on that note, I’m fresh out of c-words. Time for a coffee and some work!


the c word

PS. Congratulations to Americain on taking home the 2010 Melbourne Cup … I knew there was a c-word I’d forgotten!

Finding ROI in CSR

Melbourne image shot by Andrew MacLeod
Melbourne image shot by Andrew MacLeod

Last Wednesday, I joined a number of Melbourne PR professionals for a chat about Corporate Social Responsibility with the CEO of Committee for Melbourne, Andrew MacLeod. It was the fourth in the series of PRIA Leadership Breakfasts.

Corporate Social Responsibility or CSR (not to be confused with the sugar brand) has many names. But whether you call it corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, sustainable responsible business, or corporate social performance, you’ll agree it’s a vital part of any modern organisation.

So it’s no surprise many people were keen to hear what Andrew had to say about CSR. Before becoming CEO of the Committee for Melbourne, Andrew had a fascinating and varied career as a Marine Litigation Attorney, the Senior Advisor on Disaster Management for the United Nations and with the Red Cross dealing with military factions in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

As the Senior Adviser on Disaster Management for the United Nations, Andrew ran high-level humanitarian teams to deliver results in the most arduous of circumstances, across cultures, borders and front lines of battle. And if those credentials don’t have you kicking yourself for not attending, he also advised many major companies on their community investments, corporate responsibility and community improvement programs through an organisation called Responsible Investment.

Andrew kicked off his presentation by challenging the room of PR professionals to find a better way to communicate CSR to shareholders, customers, employees and community members. No doubt we all left the discussion ready to tackle the challenge head on!

He shared some great examples of corporate social responsibility and community improvement projects as well as some funny and frightening stories about living in various conflict zones around the world. Each example demonstrated the important role CSR plays in our modern world.

He also talked about the need to recognise the dual roles of philanthropic CSR (giving without the hope of personal return) and CSR programs with a return on investment. He encouraged everyone to search for the return on investment rather than shying away from it.

He used BHP’s community investment program in Africa, which has reduced malaria in the communities around their smelters by 80 percent and improved productivity, as an example. He also pointed out the importance of ensuring programs are self sufficient and sustainable. There’s no point putting the world’s greatest program in place if it’s going to collapse the moment your organisation leaves town. It’s a bit like the old proverb about the difference between giving a person a fish or teaching them to fish … you know the one!

CSR is also about  innovation and collaboration. Andrew told us about an interesting project the Committee for Melbourne is working on with VECCI and a number of organisations employing overseas students to reduce the violence associated with travelling home after late shifts. The program is designed to educate employees about safe commuting and other work practices. He pointed out that we’ve all had experiences of not being told about a custom or tradition, which can lead to misunderstandings! It reminded me that as communicators, we can never assume!! We always need to ask ourselves does the audience have enough information??

If you’re interested in learning more about CSR, check out the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility.


the c word

PS. We borrowed the image in this post from Andrew MacLeod. As well as being the CEO of the Committee for Melbourne he’s an avid photographer and has taken some beautiful shots of nature and Melbourne. I particularly liked this one … Captains of Industry!!