What was Arnott’s really doing?

Original-Barbecue-175g-300-x-240-300x240I am far from an expert when it comes to the world of marketing (my experience is limited to analysing advertising techniques with high school students) but there’s been something that’s been bugging me and I’m surprised that no one seems to be talking about it.

What was Arnott’s really doing when they launched their new Shapes?

Perhaps everything we’ve been reading is true. Perhaps they did a lot of market research and really thought they’d come up with a better product. Perhaps it was a shock to them that the general public hated it. But I find it kind of hard to believe.

It’s not the first time that a market leading brand has screwed up a change. In fact, it happened just recently. Gladwrap changed the location of their serrated cutting strip and the public went wild. I bought a box of it, not knowing what I was in for, and suffered through inconvenient tearing for months. I had an idea of what they were trying to do. Get people used to the change, and then they’ll only want to buy your brand. It didn’t work. Or did it?9-2652612-nat210115wrap2_t620

Glad seemed to turn their mistake around by showing that they ‘care.’ They ‘listened to their customers’ and the original tearing strip came back. Now lots of happy customers return to buying glad brand.

Hot on Glad’s heels, Arnott’s has changed their iconic shapes brand, and not only do people hate it, but they’re publicly raving about it. It’s hard to believe, but The Sydney Morning Herald and The Herald Sun and others have run articles about it, not to mention the slather of social media posts. Arnott’s hasn’t had this kind of publicity since… well maybe ever!

Apart from the fact that ‘any publicity is good publicity’ what is the real value of consumers slamming Arnott’s for ruining their favourite flavours? Well Arnotts’ seems to have an ‘insurance plan.’ They haven’t actually discontinued the old flavour. What?? If a flavour is so new and improved, why would you have the old flavour, in very similar packaging, still on the shelves? Actually it’s brilliant. It’s fear marketing and intrigue all wrapped up in one. The scandal of the ‘inferior BBQ shapes’ has caused hundreds of people to go out and buy said Shapes just for the novel experience. Everyone wants to judge for themselves. Surely they can’t be that bad? Surely Arnott’s couldn’t have ruined our beloved flavours while leaving the less favourite ones the same?

tumblr_nd0ktnttzW1tm0icro1_1280Not only have hundreds tried the new flavour, but I imagine that hundreds have also rushed out to buy the old flavour like squirrels storing for winter. The real BBQ and Pizza shapes have become endangered species, and for the first time in decades we are afraid that our iconic snack could be pulled out from under us at any moment.

Arnott’s have had a market leading brand with iconic flavours for a long time, and the consumer has become complacent. Innovation is a necessity when you’re in business, but what do you do when you’re already nailing it? Looks like you create something new. An epic, newsworthy failure that sends the country into a hexagonal shaped spin. Far from a tragedy, they’ve just bought themselves months worth of free publicity, even if it is largely negative.

Can they turn it around? Of course they can. They are a company made ‘for the people’ after all. They’ll listen to their customers. They’ll repent for their wrongs. They’ll give us what we want like a bogus reinvention, and we’ll be so, so happy. We’ll reflect on how we made it through the Shapes disaster of 2016, how it was such a close call. We’ll look with love and relief on the aisles full of original flavoured Pizza and BBQ shapes, and we’ll buy them with renewed vigour, with the knowledge of what could have been, what almost was, if we had not banded together as the Australian people to save our beloved Shapes.

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