Thursday, 3 December 2009


Well we have all heard about how well Fonterra has been doing but hows this for big corporate bully bastards .

A mum we know well has written a letter to Andrew Ferrier after she got a shit response from the company.

Good evening Andrew -

It was a pleasure to meet you at the.....................................................last week

After meeting you briefly, you struck me as an approachable man with a commonsense head.

I have an issue arising at a personal, consumer level that I wonder if you could help me with. Please note this email is unrelated to work and my approach to you is as a private individual.

You may be aware of the Anchor Milk Moolah promotion currently running at retail. With two weeks left to run, the promotion has suddenly and without warning shut out thousands of NZ kids from access to its redemption (earned rather than auction) prizes. This move has caused distress to kiwi children, who have been encouraged to engage with the brand since September, saving up milk carton labels towards some great child-targeted prizes.

I spent a harrowing one and a half hours last night, comforting my 12 year old son, who is devastated. He discovered the news via the competition website - not declared openly at the outset, but buried in the deep-click details of each individual redemption prize, a particularly cowardly attempt to avoid attention.

I am at loss as to what to say to him. I had spent the last several weeks encouraging him to engage with the brand, I'd dutifully changed my buying habits to help him, I thought the promotion would be fun for him, engaging and a good lesson about working for and earning rewards over time (delayed gratification).

Instead, he's been smacked in the face with the reality that grown ups don't play fair, they don't honour their commitments to little kids, but they'll keep trying to get them to buy more milk (the promotional offer is still on pack and the withdrawal of redemption prizes was not explained on the website). It's an appalling lesson to learn at 12. I suspect my son is not alone and that others will be learning the same harsh lesson at even earlier ages. It's irresponsible, callous and unconscionable.

I contacted your call centre and received a scripted "tough luck" response. As a professional courtesy I also rang your PR service to let them know how negatively the promotion had impacted on my son and to see if there was an opportunity to make it right for him (by allowing him to redeem the points he had saved so hard for over so many weeks for the laptop he had dreamed of earning). The alternative was (and still is) to draw public and media attention to the brand's cavalier treatment of kids. I'm keen on my children learning from this experience not to be victims but to stand up for themselves. They are currently thinking about staging a public protest and picket at the supermarket.

The response I received from your PR team today was entirely unsatisfactory and arrogant - that's the way it's worked out and tough luck if you missed out. I was advised that there was an auction element and a bonus prize draw - but you know what? My 12 year old didn't want to win $50,000, or enter an auction for a car - he's 12, he doesn't even know what $50,000 looks like - he wanted to EARN a laptop of his very own.

I was told there had been huge interest in the promotion, as if that mitigated the company's behaviour, with 40,000 entrants (I was not surprised, it's a big brand, bought daily over 12 weeks, promoted with a large budget). I heard that some adults gamed the system, buying bulk milk supplies at once and donating the milk to shelters, since they were only interested in bidding for the cars. Fair enough, they were adult prizes. Those entrants weren't interested in engaging with the brand.

The second part of the prize pool was targeted at children, with child-aspirational prizes and a school element. In talking to your staff, I was advised that they were aware of some entrants (older than 12, I assume, my boy's smart, but not that sophisticated) writing computer programs to alert them the second new redemption prize stocks came on line, so they could swoop down and grab them up before the kids had a chance.

So, not only was the promotion woefully underprepared for the demand level, but you posted the last prize pool after kids went to bed. It's almost as if you didn't care about kids at all.

The kid-oriented redemption section of the prize pool got hijacked but some IT-sophisticated adults and Anchor's response to all of the children all around New Zealand who were, like my son, just a few labels away from their goal and thinking the promotion had two more weeks to go ( the deadline is still marked on our family calendar), was "tough luck, we said there was limited stock (but not how woefully inadequate)" and "never mind, there's always the prize draw".

Kids weren't in this for the cash, they wanted to earn prizes. They were almost at the finish line and your team took the game away with no regard at all for the impact it would have on them.

And by the way, your PR advisors have interpreted or "spun" my giving them a chance to make it right for my son as attempted "extortion". I don't think that's plausible and it is insensitive in the extreme.

My issues are these:

This is an appallingly put together sales promotion. Any well designed reward redemption promotion factors in the cost of prizes in relation to the sales required to earn it - that way, selling more milk should just mean buying more redemption stock, but no increase in cost. Marketers have been taught this basic rule for the last 20 years.

Stopping the redemption pool two weeks before the end of the promotion is just cruel and insensitive to kids. They don't understand if clever adults hijacked it, they just know the rules they thought they were working were just dismissed and they were shut out.

This is an appalling way for any brand to interact with children. Interacting with children involves an entirely different foundation of trust and expectation of responsibility than interacting with adults. What were you thinking?

I think you owe the children of New Zealand an apology. You certainly owe my son one.

I'd like to discuss this in more detail and am requesting a meeting so you can explain to Zachary why the rules of natural justice don't apply to little kids.

As I said at the beginning, you strike me as a fair man. I'd appreciate a direct response.

We think Fonterra needs to seriously rethink this one - its a very very bad look.


Cactus Kate said...

Harden up would be my response, life isn't fair. Hell he hasn't even entered the tax system and he's complaining.

The kid is worried about a computer? That 12 yo will be paying for the rest of his life for the ETS thanks to Fonterra's sybsidies from paying as a polluter. Give him some perspective.

Perhaps the child needs a lesson in reading competition fine-print and Mums and Dads alike in letting their child save for objects possibly unattainable.

Sorry but the promo material made it pretty clear it was only while stocks lasted.

euminedes said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
euminedes said...

Nah cactus - this is a rip off and bad marketing. Thing is too many of these types of comps are rip offs.

From a pr marketing perspective the mother is right. Does nothing for brand loyalty as winning is not tied to brand loyalty. The intention is to hook in kids and keep em. Instead the comp has been sabotaged. Its plain shoddy and Fonterra should be ashamed of themselves.

Cactus Kate said...

Their position in the market in NZ means they don't have to run competitions in the first place.

They gave away a fair chunk of prizes in the end.

Next you will be saying every child should get a prize.

While stocks last. Stock gone. No prize.

kehua said...

No game Kate, Fonterra are just a bunch of mean spirited pricks, power hungry and Govt protected. Full points to the Mum and her reasonable and brilliant letter. What`s the bet she gets buggerall response?

Oswald Bastable said...

'Life is Unfair'

A damned good lesson to learn out of this.

Cactus Kate said...


So if Ngai Tahu won a competition they would give a prize to everyone? We've just seen they don't do that!

kehua said...

Jeez Kate what the fucks Ngai Tahu got to do with a miserable Company that pulls the plug on a bunch of kids. Lighten up mate.

pdm said...

BB I comented on this post a couple of days ago but no sign of it.

Nothing controversial just supporting the letter writer and politely pointing out to Cactus she was wrong this time.

No sign of it though.

Anonymous said...

Cactus can say that because she shows a clear disinclination to behave as an adult where kids are concerned. Had she several rug rats of her own I have no doubt at all she would be on the offensive same as the writer but worse.
Actually if it was about Brand Building it nets a fail and if it was about increasing milk sales its a fail. Piss poor marketing and it gets a plus.