This assignment looks at brands and the way that they are presented on a global stage. The first part of this assignment is how is Australia presented internationally? ie Australia as a Brand. The answer to this question is not straight forward as it depends on which opinions you seek in consideration.
Tourism Australia is rather biased in its outlook, it says that “The people of Australia are friendly and straight talking and open. Their sense of mateship and their no worries attitude make all visitors feel welcome. They make it easy to enjoy adventures beyond imagination. Whether it’s in Australia’s wide-open landscapes, pristine oceans or vibrant cities a holiday in Australia, is an opportunity to experience a vast yet accessible adventure playground. You don’t just visit Australia, you live it.”
Maybe more objective is an opinion piece by Greg Sheridan from The Australian, he wrote this article which identifies Australia’s two main brands a little differently. “Internationally, our brand is soldiers and sports. These are also our domestic obsessions. No institution is as revered as the Australian Army. Our founding myth is Gallipoli. Neither the first settlement, nor the Castle Hill or Eureka stockade rebellions, nor Federation, has anything like Anzac Day’s resonance. The sporting identity is intimately linked with our military tradition. The idea is that the sort of society we are – with its mateship and solidarity, its outdoor opportunities and its social egalitarianism, its have-a-go ethos – produces, naturally as it were, soldiers and sportsmen of the highest calibre. “
Taking another angle of consideration into account, that of an Advertising industry and brand management professional, Australia’s Brand isn’t apparently all good and only as recently as last month has been the subject of some negative attention. “Russel Howcroft, the national chief executive of a group of companies called Y&R Brands, told the National Tourism and Events Excellence Conference at the MCG in Melbourne the results of new global research on Brand Australia weren’t particularly encouraging. The world looked upon Australians as unhelpful, unreliable and untrustworthy and holidays here were considered poor quality and bad value for money, Howcroft said. The research indicated that, while Americans see Aussies as carefree and rugged, they don’t think Australians deliver quality or good value. Chinese think we’re “stylish and classy”, but not very helpful. Indians feel Aussies are daring but also arrogant. The Brits see us as “charming and independent”, but untrustworthy.”
The next question this assignment poses is what is the current Australian brand campaign? The Australian Tourism website says… The current Australian brand campaign is called “There’s nothing like Australia” The campaign “There’s nothing like Australia” was designed to be long-lasting and flexible, a campaign that could evolve to stay relevant for target consumers in a highly competitive and fast-changing global tourism environment. After two successful years in market the global campaign creative has been refreshed and updated to reflect current business conditions including the adoption of the Australian Government’s Tourism 2020 strategy.
The campaign is supposedly presenting Australia to the world in this respect “The new campaign creative will, target Australia’s key consumer audience by highlighting world’s best in Australia, including the accommodation options and facilities, the glamour and excitement of our contemporary cities, our globally renowned food and our wine, and our magnificent natural wonders. By focusing on examples of Australia’s best product, the next phase of the campaign aims to encourage these visitors to travel further and spend more on an Australian holiday. Tourism Australia believes the approach will resonate particularly well with Asia’s growing, affluent middle class, especially in key markets such as China, across South East Asia and the fast emerging markets of India and Indonesia.”
The second part of this assignment is to consider an Australian Brand and it’s background profile. The brand I have chosen is the Akubra Brand. Ok it’s not the biggest Australian international brand but I do believe it is an iconic piece of Australian culture and I was attracted to presenting it for this reason. Personally my experience started with this brand when my grandfather placed Akubra hat he wore during service in the military service on my head. I remember indelibly that is still had bullet holes through it, which I was able at the time to put my fingers through.
The Akubra brand has a long history in Australia. This company history information is taken from the Akubra website who seem very proud to display this history and some accompanying pictures of their company history.
“Akubra was established by in 1874 by Benjamin Dunkerley an English immigrant who first set up a hat factory in Glenorchy, Tasmania. Benjamin Dunkerley arrived in Tasmania from England and decided to start a hat making business in Hobart. His skills as a hatter were backed by his ability to invent machinery, and soon after his arrival he had developed a mechanical method of removing the hair tip from rabbit fur so the under-fur could be used in felt hat making. Previously this task had to be done by hand. In the early 1900’s Dunkerley moved the business to Crown Street, Surry Hills, an inner suburb of Sydney, setting up a small hat making factory.
In 1904 Stephen Keir I, who had also migrated from England, joined Dunkerley. Keir had hat making experience from England, and was seen as a valuable acquisition for the business. In 1905 he married Ada Dunkerley, Benjamin’s daughter and soon after was made General Manager. Since that time the hat making firm has been in the hands of succeeding generations of the Keir family. In 1911, the business became Dunkerley Hat Mills Ltd, and had a mere nineteen employees. The trade name “Akubra” came into use in 1912. The increasing popularity resulted in the move to larger premises in Bourke Street, Waterloo and expanded production, especially of Slouch hats during World War I. Soon after all hats were branded Akubra. When Dunkerley died in 1925, ownership of the business transferred to Stephen Keir I.
The business continued to flourish and when Stephen Keir retired in 1952 he was succeeded as Managing Director by his eldest son, Herbert. His second son, Stephen Keir II, served as General Manager and became Managing Director in 1972. His son, Stephen Keir III, became Managing Director in 1980. Another son, Graham, joined the firm in 1972, first as sales representative for Northern NSW and later as National Sales Manager. Unfortunately, Graham died prematurely in 1987. Stephen Keir III retired as Managing Director on 31st December 2007, allowing his son and fourth generation of the Keir family, Stephen Keir IV, to assume the mantle of Managing Director. In 2010, after working with the company for more than 56 years, Stephen Keir III O.A.M stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Directors. Stephen Keir IV, who has worked with the Akubra company for more than 20 years, is appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors
On 25th May 2012 Stephen Dixon Keir III passed away peacefully. He leaves behind him his wife (and former Director) Wendy, Daughters Stacey and Nicola (who both currently serve as directors of Akubra Hats), Son and Chairman of the Board of Directors Stephen Maitland Keir IV as well as seven Grandchildren. So the family tradition continues.
The Akubra Hat Factory is now based on the mid north coast of New South Wales in the town of Kempsey, having relocated from Sydney in 1974.”
The third part of this assignment is finding out what the international perception of Akubra is using a swot analysis.
Akubra is seen as a Iconic brand, it’s positively supported and indelibly part of the Australian culture. In the movie Australia, the lead character Hugh Jackman played wears an Akubra hat which was specifically made for this movie. Akubra understands it can leverage it’s brand positively from the use in such high profile exposure, and has made regular practice of putting Akubra hats on big name celebrities. The Akubra product is made from local and imported products which supports local business. The product is suited to the environment that all Australians find themselves in. Akubra have found good markets overseas in other similar climate countries to Australia in places like South Africa and Zimbabwe and Tibet. Akubra have teamed with Corporate direct to offer corporate business clients the Akubra hat and appropriate additional corporate branding. Teaming with corporate direct was a clever move and would make large scale corporate orders quicker and easer.
Akubra has lots of competition Borsalino, Biltmore Hats, Christys, Hills, Mayer, Tilley, and Stetson to name a few. I believe it does not currently represent a growth industry and the cost to export Australian goods is high comparative to many other products. The biggest identifiable threat to Akubra is losing market share to big competitor businesses online such as Stetson.
The identification of new markets in similar climate countries has to be seen as the biggest opportunity for Akubra, combine this with small diversification and expanding their product range into belts or clothing. Akubra could develop an advantage over it’s competitors however it would probably be only able to do this by production outside of Australia.
Other companies do have a weakness in the Australian market as Akubra is iconic and seen as the “stockman’s hat”. It would be difficult to break this belief and would represent significant cost to any competitor who attempted to break Akubras market hold on Australia.
The Akubra brand does have competitors in fact they have lots, here’s an overview of the main competition, Stetson. This information was taken from the Stetson website history page.
“In 1865, with $100, John B. Stetson rented a small room, bought the tools he needed, bought $10 worth of fur and the John B. Stetson Hat Company was born. A year later the “Hat of the West” or the now famous “Boss of the Plains” hat was born and the name Stetson was on its way to becoming the mark of quality, durability, innovation and beauty….The longevity and history of the John B. Stetson Company is based on innovation and quality! John B. Stetson led the hat industry his entire career by designing new hat styles for fashion and function. When it came to quality it was his creed and for the past 130 years it has so stamped the product that the name and the word are synonymous.”
Stetsons belief is that “Stetson is the standard in hats, the essence of the spirit of the West and an icon of everyday American lifestyle. Because of its authentic American heritage, Stetson remains as a part of history and, for the same reason will continue into the future.”
Stetsons tagline is “Stetson, it’s not just a hat, it’s the hat.”
Other competitors include: Borsalino, Biltmore Hats, Christys, Hills, Mayer, Tilley, however the most serious competitor are Stetson due to the similar design styling, historic cowboy or stockman styling.
Are they the same? Well I believe that they are essentially the same product and were established within 10 years of each other, both having been around for more than 100 years I do not believe that quality has ever been of issue with either brand, both sit within their respective markets as iconic brand leaders and utilise patriotism to sell.
Brand edge for Akubra is probably only by location, if the Australian market were accessible by the US one hundred years ago I think we could have all been wearing Stetsons. The reputation of Akubra and Stetson brands are strong, reputable and iconic leaders in their respective markets.
Akubra uses a few different Advertising strategies, They use official sponsorship of Rotary Health, partnering with Mental Health awareness and building a positive social corporate image, as can be seen in this media release about their involvement with Rotary Health. “In an effort to bring the importance of mental health research to the fore, Australian Rotary Health will be holding a fundraising and awareness day on an annual basis. ‘Hat Day’ will be a day you and your family and friends can get behind as a way to promote the importance of mental health research.
Akubra is proud to be an official sponsor of Australian Rotary Health’s Hat Day. Akubra has made a three year commitment in suppport of this this annual event.
We hope you will join us in supporting Australian Rotary Health, to raise much needed funds for vital research that directly helps the mental health of Australians.”
Akubra also support the McGrath Foundation day in a similar positive social corporate responsibility with the bonus that they get high profile people and exposure. It’s hard to tell if their involvement is genuine since they seem to get the exact profile and exposure that a paying advertiser would seek. This is the media statement covering their involvement with the McGrath Foundation. “With Prime Minister Julia Gillard decked out in a pink Akubra, the channel Nine team sporting the bright Akubra’s and Glenn McGrath also in pink, no one left Sydney’s iconic sporting facility without a heightened awareness of the McGrath Foundation’s work.”
Akubra also use product placement on big name celebrities all over the world to push the brand and image. Some names of people they have used are: Julia Gillard, Ian Healy, Tony Greig, Michael Slater, Myffy Scadeen-McHugh, Hugh Jackman, Greg Norman,Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Ronald Regan, Prince Charles and Bill Clinton.
Akubra is highly identifiable as an Australian brand, however I believe it doesn’t suffer the questionable product or quality criteria as international perception seems to have about Australia. Akubra has history on it’s side, and has distribution channels all over the globe.
I believe it would be extremely safe to assume the brand perception would vary from country to country however Akubra have targeted celebrities in from many different countries so are positioning themselves in a way as a brand leader globally.
Australia is, and always will be, identified as a rough, tough and rugged country. The Akubra brand has thrived due to it’s robust almost indestructible quality. The Australian outback image and Akubra are indelibly and cleverly intertwined, having mass appeal with Australian farmers and being promoted as the Australian stockmans hat. The Akubra brand is a great one to be linked to Australia as it rides on the back of the tough nature of the country, is already iconic within it, and will probably always remain so.
Tourism Australia information. Retrieved 18.08.2012, from http://www.tourism.australia.com/en-au/marketing/brand-australia.aspx
The Australian “Brand Australia defined by soldiers and sport” published August 18th 2012, from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/review/brand-australia-defined-by-soldiers-and-sport/story-fn9n8gph-1226451671042
The Sydney Morning Herald “Australians unhelpful unreliable and untrustworthy” published July 23rd 2012, from http://www.smh.com.au/travel/blogs/travellers-check/australians-unhelpful-unreliable-and-untrustworthy-20120723-22j6c.html
Stetson Hats History Retrieved 18.08.2012, from http://www.stetsonhat.com/history.php