Tag Archives: brand

Carrol Boyes adds fine Chocolate Collection, ‘inspired by her art’, to its vast range of ‘embracing conversation’ artisanal products!

Yesterday I visited the Carrol Boyes head office in Paarden Eiland, and was shown around its extensive and impressive Showroom, and Chocolate and Sugar Confectionery production facility by its CEO Craig Ludwig.  Continue reading →

Devaluation of the Rand a double-edged sword for wine industry!

imageThe devaluation of the Rand, especially since President Zuma’s Nenegate in December, is not all plain sailing, having negative effects on the wine industry too, warns Wines of South Africa CEO Siobhan Thompson. The weak Rand is expected to dominate for a year.

The positive benefit of the devaluation of the Rand in making the country’s wines more affordable in international markets, will be counteracted by the increased prices of imported corks, barrels, equipment, yeast, and closures.  Increased inflation will be likely to drive up wages too, adding to cost increases.

Local wine farmers were advised to hedge their businesses against currency fluctuations, to balance wine exports and local sales, and to increase sales of premium wines.

Ms Thompson warned that the exchange rate devaluation would severly affect international marketing budgets by up to 25-30%, either leading to reduced marketing activity in overseas markets, or a substantial increase in marketing budget will be required. She warned that this could negatively affect building brand ‘South Africa‘ in international markets. She also said: ‘We need to stand true to our strategy of building value over volume. South Africa is serious about growing its image and higher price tier offerings and we need to continue doing so and not be pushed to lower FOBs and price points due to the Rand devaluing’.

Source: The Drinks Business

Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog  Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@WhaleCottage  Facebook:  click here


Economic Development Programme to amalgamate Cape tourism bodies?

The planned Economic Development Programme (EDP), which was announced by Alan Winde, Western Cape Provincial Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, more than a year ago, could see the amalgamation of Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism.

In a report in Southern African Tourism Update, a new steering committee of seventeen members for the EDP is announced, which includes current Cape Town Routes Unlimited (CTRU) Chairman Peter Bacon, Protea Hotels Group’s Otto Stehlik, and Western Cape province head of Economic Development and Tourism Solly Fourie, with Minister Winde.  The role of the Steering Committee is to ‘guide the final design, implementation and launch of the EDP’. More specifically, the Steering Committee agreed that the EDP should seamlessly integrate all sectors of the Western Cape economy, it should ‘institutionalise’the partnership between government and business to create mutual accountability for the future of the economy’ of the province, it should guide business around shared goals, it should create an environment that is conducive to small and large business as well as attracting investment to the province, it should provide ‘economic and market intelligence’, and should monitor the performance of the economy.  Greater employment will also be addressed by this not-for-profit body. One of the specific aims of the EDP is to create ‘a single strategy and brand for the region’s economy’, says a media release issued by Minister Winde earlier this year.  The ‘Cape Town and Western Cape’ brand name was highly controversial when it was introduced at the inception of Cape Town Routes Unlimited.

The report states interestingly that ‘it is anticipated that the EDP will resolve the current duplication of marketing efforts by CTRU and Cape Town Tourism (CTT), resulting from a historical impasse between the province and the city, which funds CTT’.  When the Minister first announced the establishment of the EDP, and his desire to amalgamate all economic and tourism related bodies in the Western Cape, Cape Town Tourism expressed its vehement opposition to the EDP, and declared its independence.  The Minister has not mentioned Cape Town Tourism as one of the bodies to be amalgamated more recently, and Cape Town Tourism has also not done so, just referring to its benefit for the province in general at its recent AGM.  Even more interesting as that Cape Town Tourism’s legal advisor Mike Evans of Webber Wentzel referred blatantly, and out of context to the AGM proceedings, to the closing down of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, while he may have meant that the operations of the EDP would be incorporated into the EDP.

Winde has used the model of the London Development Agency for the EDP, and has appointed Cape Town Partnership CEO to lead a task team for the establishment of the EDP, which is to open its doors in April 2012. In September we wrote about the Economic Development Agency, its name at the time, and the list of eighteen Western Cape economic promotion bodies which are to be amalgamated into it, including Wesgro, the Cape Film Commission, Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and the Cape Town Fashion Council. There has been no mention of Cape Town Tourism as being one of the bodies since then.

Only through the amalgamation of both Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism can the current costly duplication of marketing Cape Town and the Western Cape be eliminated.  Whilst the City of Cape Town funds Cape Town Tourism, and the DA rules both the city and the province, it will be interesting to see if the City of Cape Town and Western Cape province can see the bigger picture and co-operate in pulling Cape Town Tourism into the body as well, for the benefit of a united tourism industry in the Cape. The proviso of course would be that the EDP should be run efficiently and along business principles.  The management of Cape Town Routes Unlimited has been a disaster, and is not a model for how the EDP should be run!  We call on the Minister to communicate in more detail with the tourism industry, to explain his plans with the EDP.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Public Relations consultants: feedback from a blogger!

Having blogged for almost three years now, we receive an increasing number of media releases from PR agencies.  Having run a food PR consultancy before starting our Whale Cottage Portfolio, I have long wanted to write a blogpost about how we view PR consultancies, and the recent Mail & Guardian article, pitting food journalists against bloggers, and detailing how PR consultancies have to deal with the blogging politics, has been a further inspiration to do so.

Our observations are as follows:

1.  As the representative of the client, we are surprised about the spelling and grammatical errors that we see in media releases sent by PR consultancies.  One would expect clients to sign off media releases, and they too do not seem to pick up the errors.

2.  In the era of social media, everyone knows where bloggers are, as they like to Tweet about it.  One of the biggest problems this causes is that bloggers know when they have been left off the invitation list for a lunch or launch, without explanation or warning.  While one understands that not everyone can be invited to all functions, there is an automatic affront if one is left off such a list, and one picks up from Twitter who is present.  This is a minefield for PR consultants.  One would think that they would rather host a small number of events with bloggers and journalists who tolerate the presence of others than invite all of them to one function. To be sent the media release about the restaurant/product after the lunch that one has not been invited to is adding insult to injury!  No PR consultancy should pander to blogger or journalist egos in dictating who they want/don’t want to be in a room with at a function! 

3.  My biggest issue with PR agencies is their inability to say ‘thank you’ when one has written about their clients’ brand, whether it results from an invitation to attend a function, or is a spontaneous visit to a restaurant and it receives a good review.  Not saying thank you for coverage received is as rude as a blogger/journalist not thanking the host and PR agency for the invitation!  As a blogger we are spending our own money and time to evaluate a restaurant or product, and are not remunerated for this by an employer.  In the pre-Social Media days, our PR company subscribed to an agency that tracked all coverage we achieved for our clients, especially in print.  It was difficult in those days to track TV and radio mentions.  To pick up Social Media mentions, one can subscribe to Blogs that one expects coverage from and to whom one sends releases, check Hootsuite for mentions on Twitter (via keywords reflecting the clients’ names/brands), and via Google Alerts for the client name/brand.  One should not have to write the PR agency’s Twitter handle into the Tweet linked to the blogpost about a restaurant/product, for the agency and/or its client to pick up the coverage.  Blogging has an important role in gaining awareness for a new brand/restaurant, and bloggers with high readership can get the product/restaurant onto the first page of Google, the ultimate goal for any brand, with resultant financial benefit if it leads to bookings.  We rarely receive feedback about the business that is created for the restaurants we write about.  An exception has been De Huguenot, which is tracking via Google Analytics where its website traffic is coming from, and could tell us how many hits it had received from our write-up about their launch lunch.  An absolute no-no is a PR consultancy requesting that one informs them when the blogpost about their client’s brand has been published!

4.  What is surprising is how few PR consultancy staff appear to read the Blogs they send media releases to, firstly in not picking up the coverage their clients’ brands achieve, but also in asking for coverage in our ‘events diary’, something we don’t have.  This means that everyone on the media list receives the same release and request for coverage, making the PR consultancy look unprofessional in not understanding the bloggers’ writing interests (we are all diferent), and the media release will be deleted as a result.  One cannot help but think that media consultants are still old-school, valuing print coverage more than coverage in blogs.  Part of the problem is the valuation of the coverage, the measure PR consultancies use to prove to their clients how good they are, and what the coverage achieved would have translated into in advertising Rands.  There is no official public information about the readership of an individual blogpost, or even of a Blog, or a means of placing a value on this readership, making it appear that blog exposure is a secondary achievement for PR consultants compared to print coverage, even if the blogpost achieves an excellent Google ranking, and therefore could be far more beneficial to the client’s brand and its sales.  There is also no quantification of the value of the immediacy of coverage in a Blog compared to that in a magazine three to four months later. 

5.  While we appreciate receiving information that can help us write an interesting story on our Blog, we don’t want to receive information that has been sent to every other journalist and blogger.  Only one PR agency, representing the Stellenbosch Wine Festival, took time to request which angle I wanted to write about.  In the end I chose my own perspective on it.  However, background information on a brand launched at a function to which one is invited helps in writing the blogpost, as one can add the personal individual touch from one what one has learnt at the function itself.  An exclusive angle is great, but these are seldom seen.  Reuben Riffel’s visit to America  earlier this year, and his appearances on TV there, was an exclusive story we were given by Manley Communications. 

6.  Another sign of the lack of understanding by PR consultancies is being sent high resolution photographs, which slow down the download, and are unusable on a Blog.  Bloggers prefer using their own photographs, and would not want to use those that every other blogger and journalist have been sent.

7.  While we sometimes fear that we will run out of things to write about, there is not such a dearth of material that we have to be flooded with media releases. One wine client PR agency sends a media release almost daily, and they look boring, and have minimal news in them, and are without attractive ‘packaging’ of the release, to entice one to read it.  I am unable to write about a wine or a food product if I have not tasted it, and the fewest PR agencies send one a product to evaluate.  I would never write about a product that I have not experienced, events being an exception.  This does not mean that I feel I have to write something positive because I received the product for free – I may choose to not write about it if it is not exceptional, or if the story does not have an interesting angle.  The worst thing that the staff of a PR consultancy can do is to chase coverage.  There are no coverage guarantees in journalism and blogging.

8.  While branded CD’s look attractive and professional, I far prefer a printed media release, to write from.  An attractive interesting media release is preferable to a bland and boring one, for obvious reasons.  But the release should be printable, and one should be able to read communication between the two parties, if it is against a dark background.

9.  Bloggers do not know all other bloggers or journalists, and it would be really nice to have name tags at events hosted by PR consultancies, with an introduction to those we may not know.  I rarely see this at functions.  PR consultancies may not realise that the acceptance of an invitation to an event may be more about meeting other bloggers (an ever-growing band), and less about the meal!  

10.  We would like to be updated on changes happening at restaurants, such as changed names, changed opening hours, winter specials offered, changes in chefs and restaurant management, etc.  This may not justify a media release, but an e-mail would be appreciated, so that one can update one’s blogpost.

11.   Last, but not least, a free lunch cannot ‘buy’ most bloggers!   I have been questioned about the degree of feedback one can give about an event if one has been invited to it, some feeling it rude to provide criticism of an invited event.  This is a difficult question, but if the blogger is known to be honest in writing, then one would expect that person to write about the event with warts and all. There is no greater compliment when one’s feedback has led to a positive change.  Many critical commenters on blogs question the credibility of write-ups based on lunch/dinner invitations.  Any blogger with ethics will declare that a complimentary product/meal was received .

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape Town to become a brand, with its own identity

Good tourism news is that finally some constructive marketing work will begin to happen for Cape Town, in that it is to have a brand developed for it.  Currently Cape Town shares the brand name ‘Cape Town & Western Cape’, which was developed by Cape Town Routes Unlimited about five years ago, and which the tourism industry has rejected from day one as being ‘schizophrenic’.

The tourism marketing bodies in Cape Town have stood still for more than a year, having been focused purely on the World Cup, rather than to continue marketing Cape Town.  Even after the event, no visible marketing was seen from both Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, both organisations appearing to believe that their job was done for the next few years ahead.   They too, like tourism players, are surprised that the tourism onslaught has not happened post the World Cup, given all the hype!   The strained relationship between the two tourism bodies, and the Western Cape Tourism Minister Alan Winde’s threat to amalgamate them, has not helped build relationships between the two bodies.  

Creating a separate stand-alone brand for Cape Town is a huge victory, and in my opinion it signals an ‘UDI’ by Cape Town Tourism, declaring to the Minister that the body is determined to go it alone. The announcement of the branding for the city was contained in a long, not always articulate, article written by Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, in the Cape Argus earlier this week. The article contains the following marketing plans for Cape Town:

1.   “A long-term vision for the decade ahead”, but Mrs Helmbold does not tell us what this vision is

2.   Trends have to be evaluated, and Mrs Helmbold mentions the example of extreme weather conditions, and says Cape Town should capitalise on these opportunities in other parts of the world, with last minute packages.  However, when the UK tourists were snowed in over Christmas, nothing was done locally nor internationally, as both the CEO’s of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited were on holiday, unheard of for the hospitality industry, when the summer season is at its busiest!

3.   “… Cape Town to lead the way to a new future-fit environment through fundamental change”, a rather meaningless sentence, written in the context of our city embracing “leadership and innovation”, and not hunkering after the way things used to be, is what she is trying to say.  She calls for investing in and testing new ideas.

4.   A “365-day marketing strategy” is mentioned, but no detail is provided.  If this implies a campaign to address seasonality, than it is sorely needed, and should be the priority focus.

5.   In marketing the city, the focus should not only be on Cape Town’s natural beauty, writes Mrs Helmbold.   A series of workshops is to be held to focus on the importance of tourism product development: “We must diversify and invest in new experiences and products”.

6.   Cape Town should be repositioned “as more than just a summer leisure city”.  However, all marketing ever for Cape Town has been focused on the city’s attractiveness to the leisure tourist.   What is needed, Mrs Helmbold writes, is a focus on Cape Town as an attractive business centre, and the encouragement of new tourism entrepreneurs.

7.   The tourist target market must be broadened away from the “white, affluent, well-travelled English speaker”, writes Mrs Helmbold.   Once again, she seems to be out of touch as to the profile of the tourists visiting our city.

I remain surprised about Mrs Helmbold’s lack of understanding of our tourism season.  In the article she writes “While Cape Town’s traditional international season is only starting…”, clearly not aware that the tourism season began in October, and runs through until Easter.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio:  www.whalecottage.com   Twitter: @WhaleCottage

Cape tourism consolidation “turning back the clock”, says Cape Town Tourism

The Board of Cape Town Tourism has diplomatically told the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Alan Winde, that it is not happy to turn back the clock, and support his proposal for a centralised provincial tourism marketing agency, in that this would impact on the running of Cape Town Tourism, and of the marketing of brand ‘Cape Town’.

Last month MEC Winde announced his plan to consolidate Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited into one centralised provincial body, and to market one centralised Cape Town/Western Cape brand, which created an outcry, and resulted in a carefully worded statement from Cape Town Tourism (read our blog post).

In a recent meeting between the Chairpersons of Cape Town Tourism and Cape Town Routes Unlimited, and of MEC Alan Winde for the province and Alderman Felicity Purchase for the City of Cape Town, the way forward was discussed between the two parties.  It was agreed that an apolitical body was needed which would not change every time a new politician was elected at provincial or City level.   They also agreed to appoint an independent Change Manager to lead the process of negotiation between the two parties.  Both parties importantly agreed that Structure must follow Strategy.

Given the consultative nature of the process, Cape Town Tourism called a meeting of its members, to inform them of the MEC’s plan, to present to its members its counter-plan, and to hear the industry speak.  It was disappointing to see so few, and so few heavy-weight, members attend.

Mariette du Toit-Helmbold, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, provided background to the process of tourism unification, it not being the first attempt to unite the two tourism bodies.   In 2002 the provincial government and the City decided to unify the marketing of Cape Town, by taking this role away from Cape Town Tourism (Sheryl Ozinsky was the CEO of Cape Town Tourism at the time), through the creation of a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO), named Cape Town Routes Unlimited.  The role of Cape Town Tourism was to unite seven local tourism bureaus, stretching as far as Somerset West, into one Visitor Information network, with unified Cape Town Tourism branding.  Cape Town Tourism was re-created, with a new Board of Directors and a new Constitution, created as an apolitical industry association, a body for members run by a Board elected by its members, and reasonably independent of the City of Cape Town’s funding, in that it focused on the generation of own-income.

A review organised by the City of Cape Town Mayoral Committee member Simon Grindrod in 2007, and a report full of negatives about Cape Town Routes Unlimited, led the City to withdraw its funding of Cape Town Routes Unlimited, having been a 50 % funder of the body, and gave the body the required one year notice.    In 2008 Cape Town Tourism was appointed to market Cape Town, and it was allocated the monies that would have gone to Cape Town Routes Unlimited, after Cape Town Tourism had asked its members’ support in taking on this role – the industry was unanimous in expressing its support.  This led to a city and a provincial marketing body, each marketing Cape Town, and with overlap in marketing the province as well.

MEC Winde is proposing that tourism marketing for Cape Town and the Western Cape be centralised into Cape Town Routes Unlimited, but that this body change its name.  It would be the primary body marketing Cape Town, and would be largely funded by the City of Cape Town.   This, Cape Town Tourism’s Board believes, is turning back the clock, as Cape Town Routes Unlimited is exactly such a body established six years ago, and has failed dismally.  The MEC wants a single destination marketing organisation, a single marketing strategy, and a single brand (currently it is the mouthful of ‘Cape Town and Western Cape’).   Further, the MEC has proposed that Cape Town Tourism market Cape Town domestically, while the province market it internationally.  Major events should be marketed by the province, and smaller localised events should be marketed by each affected or organising tourism body.  Cape Town Tourism stated that it felt that the MEC’s proposal contained too much emphasis on structure, even though he himself has stated that Strategy should drive Structure, especially given that the MEC has specifically suggested that the Board of the new body be appointed by the Premier and the Mayor, once again politicising tourism marketing.

Cape Town Tourism stated that the implications for Cape Town Tourism of the MEC’s proposal would be as follows:

1.  All marketing policies would come from provincial level

2.   A joint Cape Town/Western Cape brand is not feasible, Cape Town Tourism correctly stating that “Western Cape” is not a brand but a ‘collection of brands’.

3.   Strategy, structures and policies will once again be approved by politicians, given the proposed structure.  The body should be apolitical, and tourism must be protected against political changes.

4.   The province is proposing to only fund the establishment of the new DMO, and is expecting the City of Cape Town to fund all marketing costs, reducing the marketing budget dramatically and adding more administrative costs, reducing the monies available for marketing.

In its carefully worded response to the MEC, the Board of Cape Town Tourism stated that it was important that the marketing of world cities such as Cape Town should be driven by international best practice.  It does not support the establishment of a single DMO, but rather would like to see distinct roles and responsibilities for the two parties.  It was emphasised that Cape Town Tourism does not want to take over the marketing of the province (although many a Cape Town Tourism member would like to see this happen!).

Cape Town Tourism stated that its counter-proposal to the MEC was as follows:

*   create a joint integrated tourism marketing network

*   brands must be managed at local and regional level

*   Cape Town is the key tourism brand in the province, with its own unique identity, and cannot be straight-jacketed into a provincial marketing programme.

*   International best practice shows that successful city marketing is city-driven tourism, based on public/private partnerships.

*   The lifetime value of Cape Town’s ‘customers’ must be harnessed, via Customer Relationship Marketing.

*   Duplication of marketing activity and expenditure must be eliminated.

*   Cape Town Tourism should take over responsibility for the Convention Bureau and Events, two functions sitting with the province, and dominant sources of tourism income.

*   Cape Town Tourism should be the hub of tourism stakeholders, including the citizens of Cape Town.

In concluding the discussions at the Cape Town Tourism member meeting, the members were given an opportunity to state their views.  The tremendous success of Cape Town Tourism in marketing Cape Town and in dealing with the world’s media based in Cape Town during the World Cup demonstrates how successful the body is, and that it should not be re-engineered if it is working so well, the members were told.   Given that both bodies are spending taxpayers’ monies, it is expedient that such money not be wasted by creating a new structure.

POSTSCRIPT 24/8: An e-mail sent to Cape Town Tourism members during the course of today includes the following: “In a new development, the MEC has given his assurance that no decision will be taken on the issue of tourism structures before a tourism strategy for the Province has been agreed, in consultation with key city and regional stakeholders. Cape Town Tourism fully supports this move and will be taking part in the strategic planning process”

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com