Archive for the ‘Marketing & branding’ Category

South Australia’s multimedia cluster

September 9, 2011

SA once ran Australia’s best cluster program. The main architects were Mick O’Neill (until recently Deputy CEO, SA Dept. of Trade & Economic Development) and ex-Irishman Hugh Forde. In this exclusive series, Mick provides Cockatoo readers with the lowdown on the origins and performance of another cluster. In recent editions we have featured water, defence, spatial information – refer our blog.

 Multimedia was one of the two original pilots, selected largely due to the interest from both state and federal governments at the time. In particular there was a federal program to establish a Cooperative Multimedia Centre in most capital cities.

 The cluster project was designed to complement the establishment of the CMC, engaging the industry and developing strategic projects (skills, awareness, research, networking etc.). The CMC subsequently provided a home for the initiatives so in this case there was no need or logic to establish a new entity.

The cluster projects had a finite life and the CMC continued much longer albeit also closing down some years later. Arguably the initiatives contributed to the growth of the sector in their own right but there is no sense of a multimedia sector/cluster today although there is a proliferation of web developers and a digital content ‘sector’ providing animation and post-production to the international film industry, game development, Iphone and Ipad apps, industrial simulation etc. Many of these activities can be traced back to the multimedia initiatives and some of today’s success stories  were involved and will say the cluster activities contributed along the way – if only to enable networking, generate confidence, validation etc.

 Once again we need to be careful about using the term failed cluster but there is undoubtedly a lesson about responding to government priorities rather than looking at the economic fundamentals of the sector.

 Regards, Mick O’Neill 0416 079 089

Sell your community to the world

July 7, 2011

 A new website – – has been launched by Paquita Lamacraft inGermany. As well as classy photos, her website captures historical facts, inventions and things of interest in various cities. It already has readership from 62 countries. It’s a sort of “pictorial Bill Bryson” that urges you to jump on a plane.

 Paquita knows us backwards – she’s a western district gal, and has held senior economic/tourism positions in Camperdown, the Greater Green Triangle, Daylesford and Mackay. She later drafted the Film & Music Strategy forNew Orleansand the cultural planning outlines for Milton KeynesUK.  

 So I suggested she also feature towns and regions inAustralia,New Zealandor anywhere for that matter. The opportunity is real because of her skill sets, and it would provide a great way for cash-strapped councils to sell themselves to world travellers and investors.

If you’d like to be featured, please view her site, and ring us to discuss rates and time schedules.



Blewett Review of Food Labelling misses the point!

July 5, 2011

Former Labor Minister Dr. Neal Blewett recently headed a Panel that reviewed Food Labelling Law and Policy – it tabled its report in January, and the Australian Government’s decisions on the report’s recommendations are expected in December 2011. The delay is due to Blewett’s report needing to go back the states, territories and NZ for their final input.

 The terms of reference noted that labeling needs to convey product attributes to a potential consumer and the need is mainly at the point of sale. However the report gave scant regard to this. The Cockatoo Network made representations to the Department of Health and Ageing (which provides the secretariat) when we saw that the draft report had not sufficiently covered the issue of ‘country of origin’ labelling i.e. the wording ‘made from local and imported products’ could in fact mean that 99% of the product is fromChina! Such a lack of precision also thwarts regional branding efforts.

 The Blewett Review’s lack of treatment of this key issue was not helped by the submission by the Department of Industry, Science and Research, which opted out of the discussion. While DISR ostensibly exists to facilitate the growth of food manufacturing, its submission said:

“It should also be noted that any attempt by the Government to introduce country of origin labelling measures for the sole purposes of encouraging consumers to substitute Australian products for imported products could conceivably be considered to be inconsistent with a range of international trade obligations.”

We will continue to pursue this matter.

Buyers unravel the ethics behind the label

January 18, 2011

Professor Roy Green (Dean of the Business School, UTS) has forwarded us a most interesting article – summary below.

If you ever buy an item of clothing from Tesco, the UK supermarket chain, you can be sure it will not contain any cotton from Uzbekistan. Tesco decided to boycott Uzbek cotton in 2006, following reports of forced and state-sanctioned child labour. That was the easy part. Eliminating the unwanted material from Tesco’s supply chain and proving that it was no longer used would take until the end of 2007.

“It was an enormously complex task,” says Alan Wragg, the company’s clothing technical director. “Even the production of a simple garment such as a T-shirt requires materials to pass through four to seven pairs of hands, so the number of possible permutations in the supply chain was huge.”

In May, the Global Reporting Initiative, a network of 20,000 organisations developing a framework for corporate sustainability reporting, published “The Transparent Economy”, a report that identified traceability as a key challenge in corporate reporting over the next decade. It also included a survey in which 86 per cent of GRI members rated “the importance of the ability of businesses to trace products through their entire life cycle” as important or
very important.

At Tesco, Mr Wragg knew that in order to monitor his supply chain, he first needed to see it more clearly. “We learnt quickly that our supply chain was very complicated and diverse,” he says. “We knew that Uzbek cotton was taken mainly to Bangladesh, Turkey and China, but most producers of yarn don’t use a single source, they blend cotton from a variety of countries.” The quality of raw cotton can vary depending on local factors such as weather conditions, he explains, so blending prevents inconsistencies in the finished yarn.

Food labeling

November 30, 2010

Australia’s former Health Minister, Dr. Neal Blewett, is heading a review of food labelling, and the Secretariat is located in the Department of Health. Therein lies the rub – most of the submissions have focussed on health and food safety. So we’re seeking a meeting to highlight how weak food labelling is harming regional Australia.

For example, food labelling usually states that ‘this product is made in Australia from local and imported ingredients.’ This tells us nothing – it’s certainly not consistent with consumers’ growing demand to know exactly what they are eating. A bout of food poisoning from imported product would force the issue.

While on the subject of food, cruising the supermarket aisles one can find many tinned food lines from Italy, Netherlands, UK, USA etc. at very low prices. Now these are relatively high cost countries and there is a good probability that it is dumped i.e. the prices are significantly lower than in the home country.

But strangely there is little evidence of anti-dumping cases being brought forward. We are mulling over an approach to new Agriculture Minister Joe Ludwig, who was a champion for stronger anti-dumping policies when he was in Opposition.

In the meantime, if you support the likes of Beerenberg, Maggie Beer, and Bega Cheese, you support not only local companies, but those creating jobs in regional Australia.

Beerenberg – the triggers were Premier Bannon and the Sunday Mail

May 25, 2010

We recently came across an article about Grant Paech, the founder of Beerenberg Jams (Hahndorf, South Australia) and the secrets of his success. “In these early days the jam was made on the kitchen stove and sold in pots from roadside stalls and at local markets. The success of the jam led to the planting of other crops and the introduction of new varieties of jam, followed by condiments and sauces.”

 “By the early 1980s Beerenberg had established a reputation for quality and full-flavoured natural products. In 1985, the company entered a new stage when it began producing small glass jars of jam for Qantas, which had previously used imported products. After the success of this venture, the mini jars were introduced in luxury Australian hotels, where the farm-style quality of the jams was an immediate hit.”

“Buoyed by the growing reputation of his products, Grant Paech then focused on luxury hotels overseas. Beerenberg products are now on the breakfast trays of 300 of the best hotels in the Asia-Pacific region.”

 But we have the Good Oil on the whole story – because 5-6 years ago we interviewed Grant, a lovely, genuine bloke. The trigger was then SA Premier Bannon flying Qantas first-class to London. He didn’t believe the English jams on the breakfast tray measured up to the Beerenberg product. On his return home, he told a Sunday Mail journo who ran it in an article.

 The days and weeks went by as the journo waited for Grant to ring him. Finally the journo gave up and rang Grant asking “Well, what are you going to do about it?”  Grant was stirred into action, and approached  ACI Glass for a price quote for the supply of small jars. The price was very high because Grant could not  provide any assurance of a long-term supply contract. So Grant then met with Qantas’ SA manager who took up the cudgels, and the rest is history.

 Huge lesson for all us. Every idea needs a trigger, and then persistent follow-up.


Make ‘em come, make ‘em stay

August 20, 2009

We have uncovered a gem – at a conference in Victoria in July.

It was about a regional agritourism project in a northern Italian region, that saw agritourism ventures almost double in about five years.

Hospitality and tourism teacher Pauline Porcaro noted that, between 1999-2007, the area saw a 223% increase in arrivals and a 207% increase in visitor nights. Pauline, recently returned from an overseas fellowship, described the Gallo Rosso (Red Rooster) accreditation system as very exacting for business operators e.g. top ranking requires that all soft furnishings are made of natural fibres; operators are not to give up farming; tight restrictions on accommodation size.

In exchange, there is government aid, especially for training. “Marketing, enhanced by the government funding, is certainly the way to go,” she said. Pauline spoke of the lack of such a consolidated push in Australia. “We need to define agritourism. Let’s join the rest of the world. I want funding for farmers and a good strategic plan and good signposting in every town. Industry has to help to lobby government, tourism networks must work with farmers and we need to start to use agritourism as a term. Nobody stands alone to create a good movement. Let’s grab them get them off the bus on their way down to the penguin parade and let’s keep them here!”

She described the typical set-up as the men running the farm and women the tourism businesses. Operators sell local products, for example wine to visitors. Among the variations is a teaching farm for city schoolchildren. At a cost of about $5-6 per child, operators provided a home-made snack and insights into farming life. Another farm ran an ‘adopt a sheep’ program. “You visit farm, adopt a sheep and take home a photo of the sheep…you get regular updates and once a year they get a bit of fleece or cheese … what a great way of raising revenue!” or (We figure there is a great opportunity for some Cockatoo members to join forces and make a funding submission. We will keep a look-out for the right program. Contact us if you are interested – Editor.)

Coogee Bay Hotel’s regional branding (BEST PRACTICE)

June 18, 2009

 Last week I met Stephen Saric, the bloke with the toughest job in Australia – he is the food services manager at the Coogee Bay Hotel. You might recall that this hostelry became famous last summer when some additional organic material found its way into a serving of icecream.

 Well I was cruising around looking for a decent coffee when I was taken aback by the menu – they were putting mystique and sizzle into things by emphasising the regional source of their steaks!

 SIRLOIN grain fed – 250gm Angus New England NSW $22

PRIME EYE FILLET – 250gm Gympie QLD $25

WAGYU RUMP Marble 5+ – 300gm Toowoomba QLD $26

T-BONE – 500gm Angus 150 day Kilcoy QLD $29

 This is extremely rare in a middle-priced eatery in an urban environment. Stephen explained that he’d be willing to consider offers from other regional producers, subject to QA assurances and reliability of supply. Hats off to Stephen for having a crack. It is an iconic pub, with lots of history. The owner for many years was leviathan bookie, Terry Page, and it’s seared into the memories of half the nation’s ex-footballers.

 And it has got us thinking – we have Cockatoo members in iconic towns with quality produce that could dovetail nicely onto the Coogee menu e.g. Kym raves about the saltbush lamb from out Wilcannia way, Peieta says Cunnamulla has fantastic beef, Chris has his innovative small species abattoir at Bega, Rob knows who’s who in the Heyfield beef industry. Who’s interested in exploring this further?

 Contributed by Silverhawk

Think hubs!

May 14, 2009

Industry Minister Carr has subconsciously recognised the importance of place is because he is quietly funding industry centres and hubs around Australia. For example, a mining technology centre in Mackay, a creative industries hub around UTS in inner Sydney, a defence hub in Dandenong, a clean energy centre in Newcastle.

These examples of ‘localised capability and competitive advantage’ can equally apply to social and environmental projects. Members are advised to ponder the following:

  • The feds are currently announcing a spate of local infrastructure spending e.g. $2.4 million for a 15 hectare eco-tourism precinct on the Swan River, $910k for a Marine Discovery Centre at Bondi Beach. This is smart, because the expenditure aligns with local competitive advantage.
  • The Jobs Fund is providing another tranche of relevant expenditure ($650 million) right NOW.
  • The Building Australia Fund will eventually roll-out like a latter day Super Auslink program, and the city suits will be looking for local competitive advantage, critical mass and alliance partners.

We are excited by the potential for our members to use the ‘competitive hub’ concept to get some very worthy projects off the ground. Indeed, my crystal ball shows real potential for:

  • International aid hubs e.g. Cairns, Darwin.
  • Food value-adding hubs e.g. northern Adelaide
  • Eco-tourism corridors e.g. East Gippsland, Central Ranges (Victoria), Darling Ranges.
  • Logistics hubs e.g. Parkes, Shepparton, Ipswich.
  • Historical tourism and lifestyle hubs e.g. Braidwood, Chiltern.
  • Environmental management hubs e.g. eastern Adelaide, Sunshine Coast.
  • Indigenous arts and culture hubs that actually work e.g. Wilcannia, Broken Hill.
  • Recreation, health and social service hubs e.g. Wee Waa, Port Macquarie, Port Augusta. 

 Progressing these possibilities is beyond a gopher writing an application. Contact us for further details.

The world is your oyster

October 17, 2008


TO MR R.F.BROWN – Hi, I am just emailing to see if you are still around and if I can give you a ring and have a chat regarding regional branding.

I am a director on our regional development board which is in the early stages of developing our regional brand AUSTRALIA’S SEAFOOD FRONTIER. I have been lucky enough to win a NUFFIELD SCHOLARSHIP which enables me to travel the world in search of world’s best practice regarding regional branding. Having found some information by you on this issue on the web I look forward to talking to you and your reply.

Best regards, Lester Marshall, Managing Director, COFFIN BAY OYSTER FARM, COFFIN BAY SA 5607
Mobile: 0429 855021 Email:


(We have provided Lester with contacts such as Food Barossa, and Michael Dimock at Sunflower Strategies in California. Feel free to introduce yourself to Lester – Editor)