Tag Archives: Media24

UberEats launches in Cape Town, restaurant meals delivered faster!

On Thursday afternoon I attended the launch of UberEATS in a private home in Willesden Road in Camps Bay, with the backdrop of a beautiful sunset. The launch follows that in Johannesburg four months ago, the city having seen 200000 downloads of the UberEATS App in the first two months of its launch.  Continue reading →

Blaauwklippen’s 31st Blending Competition makes history!

Blaauwklippen Artwork for Blend label Whale CottageFriday’s 31st Blaauwklippen Blending Competition event was not only a celebration of the enthusiasm and skills of wine clubs around the country, but also of the rejuvenation of Blaauwklippen, with a number of changes made with a new Tasting Room venue, the addition of a new Bistro with a new champion for it, a new Spirits Room, and a redecorated entrance and cellar function room.   The Blending Competition made history with its most unusual outcome.

We were welcomed on a perfect function weather day on the lawn between the Tasting Room and the Manor House and Jonkershuis, a space I had never seen before. We were served Blaauwklippen’s Ons Sprankel wine, and canapés made by new Blaauwklippen Bistro owner and charcutier Steve Jeffery.  They were served by dapper looking waitresses, wearing Bistro black outfits and cheeky hats, looking smarter than most restaurant staff I have seenBlaauwklippen Canapes Waitress Whale Cottage in a long time.  They offered platters of spinach and feta phyllo pastry parcels, and mozzarella pesto roulades, which doubled up as the starters (I did not see the third canapé specified on the menu).  Natalie Campbell told me that the Manor House is used for conferences and weddings, while the Jonkershuis is used for staff accommodation.

I had a chance to chat to Steve before we sat down, and he told me that he has been at the Old Biscuit Mill for the past nine years, selling his charcuterie products, having had a stand at Blaauwklippen’s Market at one stage too.  Rolf and Steve had been talking for about two years about doing something jointly, and Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 15/16 February

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   70% of the economic activity of the Western Cape is focused in Cape Town, says Wesgro.  In the period July – September last year the trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency attracted R219 million in investments to the province, which led to the creation of 2000 jobs.

*   ‘Long lazy lunches, huge servings of artisan chocolate and wine, lavish estates and emerging wealth are what this booming area is all about‘ is how journalist Rachel Olding from the Sydney Morning Herald Traveller describes the Cape.  She visited Thelema, Delaire Graff, Plaisir de Merle, Huguenot Fine Chocolates, The Tasting Room, Vergelegen, the Constantia Wine Route, Solms-Delta, and La Residence as a guest of SA Tourism.

*   Delaire Graff’s new Tretchikoff acquisition ‘The Chinese Girl will be on display at the Cape Town Art Fair 2014 at The Pavilion in the V&A Waterfront,  from 28 February – 2 March.

*   The redesign of the 50 year old Naspers Centre is a World Design Capital 2014 Continue reading →

MasterChef SA Season 1 Guy Clark creates a stir in India, chef at new EuroAfro fusion Uzuri restaurant!

Guy Clark, the best looking and one of the nicest MasterChef SA Season 1 Finalists, has been in India for the past six months, helping to set up a restaurant kitchen, and has just been appointed as one of two chefs to run the kitchen of Uzuri (meaning ‘goodness’ in Swahili), a European/African fusion restaurant seating 90 patrons, which is opening in New Dehli next month.  He returned to Cape Town to renew his visa last week, and cooked a five course meal for his friends and food writers at his mother Di’s house in Bakoven.  Chef Guy’s MasterChef SA experience has taken him a long way, both figuratively and literally! Continue reading →

Meat labeling scandal: SA retailers mince their words! Gordon Ramsay may be a-maze-d!

A study conducted last year by the University of Stellenbosch Animal Sciences department has found that more than 80 of 139 meat products (about 60%!) from a range of supermarkets around South Africa were found to contain ingredients not specified on the labels, City Press reported yesterday.  All local retailers were incriminated in the study, but most have carefully minced their words, not accepting responsibility for the findings.

The results of the study conducted between April and August 2012 were initially withheld, but a Media24 Investigations application for ‘Access to Information’ was successful in making the detailed information available. The key findings of the study were that:

*   almost 60% of the meat products tested contained the ‘DNA’ of donkey, water buffalo, goat, and pork, which were not specified on the product labels.  More specifically

+   Food Lover’s Market Westville’s cheese beef burgers contained the DNA of water buffalo, sheep, and chicken, unlabeled, in addition to the beef

+   Mutton mince from the same Food Lover’s Market also contained beef, pork, and chicken

+   Boerewors from Grobbies Butchery in KwaZulu-Natal was found to also contain pork, sheep, donkey, and chicken

+   Checkers Stellenmbosch’s housebrand beef boerewors also contained pork

+   Mutton bangers at the same Checkers branch also contained beef and pork.

+   Pick ‘n Pay East Rand Mall’s boerewors housebrand specifies beef, but was found to contain the DNA of pork and sheep.

+   Woolworths’ French polony contained DNA of chicken

*   some products do not contain the main meat ingredient reflected on the pack, so that a beef burgers were found to be more chicken than beef.

The study was conducted last year under the guidance of the University’s Professor Louw Hoffman, ‘one of the world’s foremost meat researchers’, just after food labeling legislation was introduced, demanding far stricter food labeling requirements. The new legislation allows for stiff fines and even imprisonment for non-compliance, but appears to not have been actioned yet. The University stated that the DNA presence in the samples tested did not imply a health risk to consumers, and could have come from using the same equipment on the same surfaces for the cutting or mincing of different meat types, without cleaning them in between.

The National Consumer Commission had meat tested which had been imported from Brazil via Sweden, after a tip-off that it may contain horse meat, but this ingredient was not found. Ironically infamous chef Gordon Ramsay endorsed Checkers steak and also its Championship Boerewors in a TV advertising campaign last October – he may regret his endorsement, given the release of yesterday’s findings, indicating that 20 of 32 Checkers and Shoprite products were incorrectly labeled.

Professor Hoffman concluded that meat product mislabeling is a common occurrence in South Africa, which is illegal, but it is also offensive to religious groups not eating certain meat types, is unethical, and could be unhealthy!

Most supermarket chains had their PR machines issuing statements immediately, mincing their words about a finding that can hurt their businesses badly.  All were quick to blame ‘cross-contamination’ for the test results, reported News24.  Woolworths said that it would investigate, believing that ‘cross contact‘ was the cause, and not ‘deliberate adulteration‘.  Shoprite also indicated that it had not deliberately misled consumers, and that it did not make economic sense to add lamb to a beef product, due to its higher cost. Pick ‘n Pay stated that the traces of other meat types were ‘minute’, and within the 1% allowance of undeclared products caused by cross-contamination. Spar said that the industry should improve labeling.

The international horse-meat scandal, and the results released of the local meat labeling study are cause for concern, and are likely to move consumers to reduce their (especially processed) meat intake, to buy at more upmarket supermarkets such as Woolworths, and/or to go back to buying meat from a trusted butcher.

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

Woolworths: Social Media case study on how to build and break customer relationships!

Woolworths is a leading retailer, that attracts a shopper profile at the LSM 7 – 9 level, and has always stood for quality.  Its CEO Ian Moir has had a bad year to date, having experienced the negative power of Social Media three times this year already, the latest furore no doubt given him the biggest headache. There is no doubt that the furore that its employment advertising has created will become an important case study in Social Media Marketing, and will guide many other corporates in how to deal with negative sentiment expressed in Tweets, on Blogs, and in Facebook comments.

My attention to the issue was first attracted when I read a Tweet by Woolworths’ Digital Editor, highly regarded Sam Wilson, who previously was the editor of Food24, Parent24, and Women24, writing as follows: ‘Guys, I am white. I am currently interviewing white people. This @WOOLWORTHS_SA white racism thing because we comply with BEE? Weird’. It came across as a Tweet expressing her displeasure at her employer’s employment policy, and it only made sense when the story broke about Woolworth’s recruitment advertisements specifying population group requirements for the positions it was advertising. The story was launched last week on Facebook and thereafter on the blog of Justin Harrison, who calls himself an ‘Internet entrepreneurial pioneer’ on his Blog, but who has not been heard of by most local social media folk, maybe because he operates from Durban.  It got so bad on Woolworths’ Facebook page that it removed the comments containing ‘hate speech’. Last Thursday Woolworths posted a note on its Facebook wall, announcing that it was closing it down due to the overwhelmingly negative and unbelievably harsh vitriol posted, a move supported by more than 2500 likes (out of 204000 ‘likers’):

Woolies fans,

Disabling our wall was not a decision we took lightly and not one we’re particularly happy about. But when your page becomes little more than a platform for a well-orchestrated campaign of hate speech, we owe it to our customers not to subject them to such vitriol in our own house.

We have, in a variety of channels, repeatedly refuted the claims being made against us. We have also allowed thousands of comments on our Facebook page, debating the pro’s and con’s of Employment Equity as a national debate… deleting only overt hate speech and comments inciting violence.

However we’ve always put our customers first… and many, many customers have asked us to stop hosting this vitriol. We will re-open our page as soon as we think we can resume reasonable discussion”.

Yesterday the wall was re-opened, and new negative comments have been posted on the Facebook page, where most of the debate appears to be concentrated, with little mention of the issue on Twitter.  Interesting is the vast number of (mainly negative) comments about the Woolworths debacle on a new Facebook page called AAA Anti-Affirmative Action, with close to 3500 likes, reported on by The South African Newspaper published in London, which referred to Woolworths’ and SAA’s employment policy problems. The newspaper also reported in the same article that the ‘National Chairman of the Australian Protectionist Party, Andrew Phillips called upon both the Federal Labor government and the Opposition to unanimously support the introduction of sanctions upon South Africa’.   The sanctions are motivated by Mr Phillips, whom most Australians who posted comments about this story say they have never heard of, on the grounds of the government not having created an ‘equal opportunity’ society in this country.

Earlier this year Woolworths was embroiled in a Social Media war about its vintage soft drink range bearing a close resemblance to Frankie’s, which Woolworths was forced to remove from its shelves after the Advertising Standards Authority found that the retailer’s ‘Good Old Fashioned’ pay-off line was too similar to that of Frankies. Initially Woolworths denied copying any aspects of Frankies’ drinks.  In a third incident, Woolworths was criticised for launching Halaal hot cross buns over Easter, which caused a furore too. The sponsorship by the retailer of MasterChef SA was said to erase the damage which the two earlier Social Media disasters had caused, but Woolworths did not come out of the reality TV series unscathed, its Woolworths Pantry guest food blogger recipes causing controversy initially.

Woolworths reaction to the employment advertising furore, which has led to a call by trade union Solidarity for customers to boycott Woolworths, and which was echoed in the thousands of Facebook comments, smacks of old world corporate disaster management PR spin, rather than being Social Media driven:

*  Posted its employment policy, in accordance with the Employment Equity Act, which applies to all companies with 50+ employees, on its Facebook page on the same day:

Over the past few days, we’ve been accused of racist employment practices. We’d like to state the facts:

Like all South African companies, Woolworths has a role to play in transformation. For this reason, SOME positions (where there is under-representation) are designated for EE groups.
• The designated groups are Blacks, Coloureds, Indians, women and people with disability.
• As per the Emplo
yment Equity Act of 1998, Woolworths is expected, like all SA companies with more than 50 employees, to plan our workforce by race, gender and disability.

• Our workforce is diverse and includes people of all races (Black, White, Coloured, Indian), gender and disability.

We appreciate the value diversity brings to our business and the need to contribute to levelling the playing fields for certain groups of South Africa’s population”.

*   Sent a personalised e-mail entitled ‘The difference between Rumour and Fact’ to its cardholders, with a similar content, and an sms to those customers who are not on e-mail.
*   Placed an advertisement in the Sunday Times, Rapport and City Press on Sunday, with a similar message.
*   Wrote an expanded version of the content as a letter to the ‘Readers’ Forum’ of Business Report, an odd platform to use to address his ‘Dear Woolworths customer‘, when it was possibly the shareholders he was trying to placate, given the knock that the Woolworths share price has taken in the past week (the letter is the same as the one sent to its customers by e-mail)!
*   Received public media support from Labour Minister  Mildred Oliphant for its ‘unwavering effort to genuinely address transformation in the workplace through the implementation of employment equity’.

In our opinion, the response by Woolworths has been very corporate, very reserved, very defensive, and not in keeping with Social Media marketing principles of engagement and two-way communication, a similar reaction it delivered in the Frankies affair.  One wonders how one Facebook post and subsequent blogpost by Harrison could have unleashed such a storm, his message obviously touching a raw South African nerve amongst the shoppers that make up the bulk of Woolworths’ target market.   Surprising was the blogpost written on the 2oceansvibe blog, which lambasted Harrison for using the Woolworths issue as a means to gain more Followers on Twitter and other Social Media platforms, and writing in detail how Harrison had allegedly bought Followers some years ago. This led to a strong outburst of comments against 2oceansvibe, accusing it of being linked to Woolworths and/or Woolworths’ digital media agency Quirk, defending the Woolworths brand (denied by owner Seth Rotherham), and criticising 2Oceansvibe for pointing a finger at a Social Media player when it itself had been criticised for selling advertising for its radio station on the basis of highly inflated listenership fingers, forcing Rotherham to deny the allegations contained in the close to 200 comments received to the blogpost!

The Woolworths’ website does not explain its BEE employment policy, nor does it contain the public statements made in the media by its CEO in its Careers section or elsewhere on the website.  It clearly has been edited, as its introduction page invites one to click onto a link to see the career opportunities, but when does so, no jobs are listed. Now one is invited to call the retailer to check out its employment opportunities!   Woolworths should use its website proactively to communicate with its staff, potential staff, and customers!

Seemingly sensible advice to Woolworths comes from Harrison: ‘Woolworths is clearly in a spin over how to deal with this issue and they would do well to learn from SAA’s mistake. Issue a public apology and revert back to the hiring policies to be fully inclusive and based purely on experience and ability‘.

For Woolworths specifically, a platform such as Twitter should be used for engagement.  The retailer has become very poor at acknowledging any feedback about in-store problems, expressed by its Tweeting customers.  There is no apology if there is communication, and there is no follow up to communicate with the customer telephonically after the Tweet, as Pick ‘n Pay has become reasonably good at.  A company that once had the Social Media lead has become reactive and defensive, and has lost its standing due to the Social Media wars, rather than walking tall and engaging with its customers in a credible and warm manner. This is a surprise, as its Head of Online Nikki Cockcroft has an impressive background, including CEO of Primedia Online, 365 Digital, and Prezence Digital before she started at Woolworths just over a year ago, and given Sam Wilson’s experience in engaging with a similar target audience at Media24 previously.

Woolworths needs to go back to basics to better understand how to maintain customer relationships via Social Media.  Successfully building up a large army of Twitter Followers and Facebook Likers is no guarantee that the same seemingly loyal customer audience will not turn against the retailer if it is not in touch enough with its customers, and offends them, as the past ten days has shown!

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

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club: ‘pairing’ The Creative Pot with the winegoggle

The 7th Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place on Wednesday 24 November, from 6 – 8 pm, at The Grand Daddy Hotel, and will pair Marisa Hendricks from The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert from the Wine Goggle Blog. 

Marisa Hendricks  is an accountant by day, and a food blogger by night.  She lives in Brackenfell and works in Stellenbosch.  She started her The Creative Pot blog in 2006 but only seriously starting posting in the first half of 2009.   She joined Twitter at the end of last year, and says that she is loving every minute of it.  “It’s really exciting to see the effect that social media has”, she says.   Marisa started experimenting in the kitchen from a young age, trying new recipes, ingredients and techniques.  She also likes to explore foreign cultures via the foods that they eat.  She sees blogging as a creative outlet, and is developing her photographic skills, something she saw as a “necessary evil” initially.  The Creative Pot Blog stands for “Explore – Innovate – Eat”.

Emile Joubert  is a controversial blogger, and may be written about more than he writes!  His Twitter avatar features him as topless!  He says that he started his winegoggle blog “for a laugh”.  He studied journalism and worked at Die Burger as arts and entertainment editor.  Moving onto Public Relations, he joined PR consultancy De Kock & Kerkoff, promoting cement, diesel engines, ostrich fathers and unit trusts, he writes.  He wanted the wine accounts, but these were in the ‘hands of pretty and smart girls”.   This resulted in him starting his own PR consultancy Media Vision, specialising in wine, hospitality and tourism PR, as well as financial services.  He has continued writing, for Die Burger, Insig and Media24.   The winegoggle Blog describes itself as “Wine, food and fun through rosé-tinted spectacles”. 

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Emile Joubert will introduce the wines served.  Snacks will be served.  The cost of attendance is R100.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Venue: The Grand Daddy Hotel.   38 Long Street, Cape Town.

The programme for the 2011meetings for future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings will be announced in January.

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

Sam Wilson of Food24 Blogs “paired” with Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir

The fourth Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meeting takes place on Wednesday 18 August, from 18h00 – 20h00, at Brio Restaurant, and will pair Sam Wilson of Food24 food blogs, and Rob Armstrong of Haut Espoir wines in Franschhoek.

Sam Wilson is the Editor-in-Chief of Woman24, Parent24 and Food24.  Food24 has a special page on its website to provide a platform for 440 food bloggers, with 50000 readers and 200000 page impressions per month.  Sam was previously a commercial lawyer, and turned to freelance writing after the birth of her sons, before joining Media24. She was a speaker at the Food Bloggers’ Conference earlier this year.  She has also worked as a copywriter, a customer publishing strategist, a columnist and a cocktail bartender. Her websites collectively attract over 500 000 readers, and she says she “specialises in community management and the art of oversharing”.

Rob Armstrong has a BA in Archeology and Environmental and Geographical Science, and runs Haut Espoir in Franschhoek.  It is celebrating the 10th anniversary of turning this family farm into a red wine farm and planting it with Franschhoek Fynbos.  Rob is committed to “minimal intervention” with “mother earth”, both in terms of winemaking and their farming.  He is a proud member of the Biodiversity and Wine Initiative.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers will talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club will give fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

Other writers that will be talking at future Bloggers Club meetings are the following:

Wednesday 22 September: Dax Villanueva of Relax-with-Dax Blog, and Hein Koegelenberg of La Motte and Hein Koegelenberg Blog

Wednesday 20 October: Clare Mack of Spill Blog, and Simon Back of Backsberg Blog

Wednesday 24 November:  Marisa Hendricks of The Creative Pot Blog, and Emile Joubert of Wine Goggle Blog

Wines are brought along by the wine blogging speaker, and Rob will introduce the Haut Espoir wines served.  Snacks will be served.  The cost of attendance is R 100.  Bookings can be made by e-mailing info@whalecottage.com.

Venue: Brio Restaurant, 130 Adderley Street (ex-Riboville), two doors down from the Twankey Bar of the Taj Hotel.

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

On The Dot Sweet and Five Flies Sour Service Award

The Sweet Service Award goes to Aneesah Botterill from On The Dot, a mail order company in the Media 24 group.   In a most amazing service recovery, Aneesah prevented her company from receiving this week’s Sour Award.   Attempts to order wine writer Neil Pendock’s new book ‘Sour Grapes’, which was advertised in the Sunday Times last week, were met with tremendous inefficiency initially.   The ad had an immediate call to action, encouraging readers to buy “NOW” – however, the company’s order line is not open on Sundays, when the Sunday Times is published!   The following day it became impossible to get around the company’s bureaucracy, e.g. receiving a Tax Invoice to pay for the book, when it can only be issued once it has been paid!   An attempt to reach the MD of the company led to a customer call being made by On The Dot Supply Chain Manager Trade Aneesah Botterill, who listened to the customer, apologised profusely for the administrative red tape experienced, and offered to send the book for free by speed post within two days, a promise she fulfilled perfectly.

The Sour Service Award goes to Five Flies restaurant in the Cape Town city centre.   An e-mail request to the restaurant, to allow guest houses in Camps Bay to jointly share a meal at the restaurant, utilising the vouchers the restaurant had issued to the guest houses, received no response.  When the telephonic follow-up was done, the owner Alex van Nes said “No” to the request immediately, saying that he wanted to do this “his way”.   He was disparaging to the caller, swore, and then put down the phone.  A follow-up e-mail to Five Flies and a call to its PRO have not received a reaction yet.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at info@whalecottage.com.