Ross was the main guest speaker at the awards, which are run by the Newmarket Business Association to recognise and reward successful businesses based in Newmarket. He spoke about the history and culture of Moa, explaining the thinking behind several of its ads.
Ross was unrepentant about using “hotness” to sell. Speaking about the below image, he said the thinking behind it was that the product it advertised was about skincare, so bare skin should be featured. He said it got a lot of attention and “started an important conversation”. In 2011, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints about the image when it was featured on a billboard in downtown Auckland, but was stolen before it could be taken down.
Starting conversations was important for selling, Ross said. He said the Trilogy team asked customers about retouching upon considering whether or not to retouch some promotional shots. “We said, ‘ Is that really our brand? Should we retouch?'” Customers responded well and when the un-retouched images were released, sales went up as well.
Speaking about celebrities and selling, Ross described former international cricketer Shane Warne as a “loveable rogue”. He said using Warne to promote Moa beer in Australia got the brand needed attention and a lot of traction.
Ross discussed Moa’s legal challenge from Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne, the body which represents Champagne wine producers in the northeast of France. The challenge was issued in response to several instances in which Moa compared its beer to champagne. Ross says Moa sent the body a postcard featuring the Rainbow Warrior in response: “On the back of it is a Maori phrase and if you do Google translate, it basically says **** off”.
The incident was covered by a few French media outlets, Ross says, and resulted in some commercial inquiries.
Businesspeople should read widely, says Ross: “Keep filling your head up with good stuff.” Word of mouth is still the most powerful medium for sales, he says, and being first to respond to opportunities gives a powerful advantage.
Moa shares are currently trading at $0.31, and the company made a loss of around $5.5 million in the last financial year.