Call to rein in 'Brand NZ cowboys'
To regain the confidence of Chinese consumers and regulators New Zealand needs to get rid of "corrupt cowboys" trading off Brand New Zealand, a communications expert says.
Marco Marinkovich, head of communications agency Creative Bank, said New Zealand had a long way to go to restore trust in Brand NZ.
Speaking about the fallout from the Fonterra botulism contamination scare at the China Business Summit, Marinkovich said after the whey contamination scare, Chinese consumers and agents linked New Zealand to Fonterra, dairy and "poison". While the Mandarin translation exaggerated English words, "poison" was a word Chinese consumers used to describe New Zealand, he said.
Marinkovich was in the delegation that travelled to China to help restore trust in Kiwi dairy products and inform consumers the botulism scare was a false alarm.
One positive to come out of the scare was China now knew Karicare was not a New Zealand brand, he said. "It's a French brand trading off Brand NZ."
Marinkovich orchestrated a Chinese television campaign fronted by Prime Minister John Key to reassure the Chinese market after the scare.
Andrew Grant, head of management consulting firm McKinsey & Co, said New Zealand was, and would continue to be, held to a higher standard.
Speaking via video link from Abu Dhabi, Grant said China held New Zealand to a higher standard than other countries due to the types of food products being exported to China and because babies were involved.
"It might not be fair but we are and will be held to a higher standard."
That may mean New Zealand might need to solve some of China's problems to make sure products got to market in time, he said. This year's China Business Summit focuses on the recent botulism scare and other Kiwi export issues.
Chinese Chamber of Commerce managing director Liu Feng said hiccups were inevitable. "You guys try too hard to maintain that immaculate image. You are victims of your own creation." Trust could be regained when the correct message had been communicated.
"New Zealand food products remain some of the best and safest in the world."
Fonterra chief executive Theo Spierings said the company planned to spend an additional $600 million investing in consumer brands in China within the next two to three years. That was up on a current investment of $100m, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News