VicRoads waits for the horse to bolt?

By John Kananghinis

The recent tragic accident involving an out-of-control fuel tanker in Sydney and resulting in two deaths appears to have spurred some alarming claims by VicRoads.

Inspections of the remainder of the truck company’s fleet have resulted in over 90 groundings. This raises the question as to why these trucks were on the road in the first place if regular inspections were carried out by VicRoads? There is now an obvious communication issue for VicRoads, as well as for  the company.

As for the trucking company, Cootes, there has been little word from them in any of the media reporting of the tragedy.

This again highlights the need for all types of organisations to have a thorough risk assessment and issues management process, as well as a supporting crisis communication plan. These processes become all the more relevant within organisations with such high levels of exposure.

Even without such extreme risks as this incident has exposed, operating without such disciplines is “brave” indeed where there is any possibility of individual or community harm.


New survey shows Australian motor shows are dead. Budget to digital or events

By John Kananghinis

In the wake of recent decisions by organisers to cancel both the 2013 Australian Motor Show in Melbourne and the planned 2014 Show in Sydney, ICG surveyed marketing leaders in the automotive industry on marketing trends.

The results deliver bleak news for organisers of any future traditional motorshows in Australia, indicating a definite shift to customer experience events and greater digital and social media engagement.

It does not appear there will be any bonus for traditional advertising as a result of the death of local motorshows.  The bulk of that money looks to be headed online.

The group participating in the survey represented over 70% of the passenger car and SUV market by volume.  Of those, 80% of respondents do not believe that traditional motorshows are still a valuable and viable marketing tool in Australia.

Unsurpirsingly, only 20% of the brands indicated they would be ‘most likely’ to participate in any future motorshows, should they be resurrected.

By contrast, 70% said it was most likely that they would look at staging some type of customer experience event of their own, with the only caveat being that most believed that their dealers could be more involved in such brand specific events.

On the other hand, all believed that social media would play a strong role in future marketing. A high 80% expected their digital/online media spend to grow in the near future. With overall automotive marketing budgets under ongoing pressure, this is likely to be of significant concern to the purveyors of traditional media advertising.

With our industry experience we knew there was a change of views. Now the survey results are confirmation that for a market of our size, the traditional motorshow is a thing of the past. The dollars required to be present just can’t be justified when there are many more direct ways to get product in front of customers, both in person and online.

The growing importance of a strong digital presence and the opportunities offered by social media are obviously capturing auto marketers’ attention.  There is still a desire to get  ‘bums on seats’, but brand or sector specific customer experience events are seen to be more focussed and cost effective options than traditional ‘big barn’ shows. The survey results suggest that the intersection between such events and the digital space may be the new fertile auto marketing ground.

Other key insights to emerge from the survey include the view that sports and arts sponsorships were seen as having almost equal importance, yet there is a 30% gap in the number of companies with active arts sponsorships versus sports sponsorships. This may point to an opportunity for well-structured arts sponsorships to get some attention. Conversely, it could also be bad news for sports sponsorships with poor ROI.

The full survey also covers customer loyalty issues, including perceptions of CRM performance at dealer level, integration of maturing finance contract follow-ups ,and the effectiveness of mystery shopping programs.

The results of the survey (in which the responses were non-attributable) can be obtained on request by clicking here

ICG has developed a suite of support offerings in strategic counsel, research, digital strategy, experiential event and target audience activities that can help brands navigate the changing marketing landscape. The consultancy draws on three decades of experience in the automotive industry.

For information regarding our suite of offerings contact us to discuss the tools available to your organisation.


Government Lobbying: Complex Question of ‘Who’ added to ‘How’ and ‘When’?

By Robert Masters

One month after the Federal election, Australia finally has an outcome but we are still waiting for the final result.

Although two seats still remain in contention – the House of Representatives seat of Fairfax in Brisbane, which Clive Palmer (the Palmer United Party – PUP) leads by a margin of seven (7) votes and the Senate seat of Western Australia on which a recount was requested by Greens and Australian Sports Party.

Overall, these two seats do not mean much to the final result. The Coalition was returned to government by a substantial margin over the Labor Party.

The Liberal/National Coalition will hold around 90 seats and Labor 55, with the addition of the Katter’s Australia Party (Bob Katter) and the potential for the introduction of billionaire Clive Palmer. The Greens hold the other seat in the 150 seat House of Representatives.

However, it is in the Senate that  the democratic voting process can be sen at its worst.

It had the biggest ballot paper in recent history, more than a metre long, containing 529 candidates and more than 20 different parties. They ranged from the Australian Motoring Enthusiasts Party (AME) to the Bank Reform Party, the Drug Law Reform Party, the Help End Marijuana Party, the Pirate Party, the Sex Party and the Wikileaks Party.

The most surprising outcome was that the AME candidate won a seat in the Senate for Victoria on less than half a per cent of the vote in the State.

The previously unheard of micro party now appears to be in disarray with the party’s head office in Brisbane sacking the Victorian branch administration. However, after a prolonged absence from the scene, their Senator-elect Ricky Muir surfaced last week in a group embrace with Clive Palmer’s PUP Senators elect and the big man himself. The Memorandum of Understanding they announced has now created a strong voting block of four, most likely on the conservative side of the upper house.

Although the new Senate does not come into operation until July of next year, the Senate election system is certain to come under review before the next election in 2016 or before. More importantly, the composition of the Senate means that the Coalition will not have absolute power in the Upper House.

Any business or organisation seeking to deal with government on any issue needs to take into consideration 10 parties overall, including the major parties – Liberal, Labor and National – as well as parties such as PUP and AME. It is a political environment in which interests will vary and/or coalesce very much on an issue–by-issue basis.

Lobbying government has never been as complicated or difficult, making it essential to engage people who understand the parliamentary processes, as much as policies and the politicians themselves.

ICG offers clients over 30 years of state and Federal Government lobbying experience at a time when such experience will play a large part in the success or failure of lobbying campaigns.