Advocacy – are you in touch and are you prepared as a marketer?

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Last night on the ABC’s 7.30 Report, a highly damaging program was done on the manufactured pet industry – the allege several manufacturers have produced packaged foods that have directly caused illness and death in dogs and cats.

Watching it, I was fascinated by the lack of preparedness of the manufacturers and their peak bodies to respond.

The manufacturers refused to even comment and the spokespeople for the peak bodies mumbled stuff about self-regulation and the cost of recalling the product.

They were scared animals caught in the spotlight, which made them and the manufacturers look 100% guilty and uncaring.

Net outcome: total loss of trust by me in manufactured pet food.

Why is this of interest?

In the retirement village and aged care sectors, there are well organised, well funded (including by government) advocacy groups that are catching operators unaware and unprepared.

The result: significant media coverage, government intervention, direct operational costs and most importantly the loss of trust by customers.

Consider the damage done to BlueCare in Queensland as a result of a coordinated attack by the nurses union, centering on their Bundaberg aged care facility – it spread to 6 other facilities, local media then state media than national media.

Bupa suffered the same in Victoria recently.

It is 11 months ago that Fairfax/Four Corners ran their campaign against retirement village sector. To date, the sector has not responded and sales, especially for the big private operators, is still not fully recovered. The loss in DMF income to Stockland, Lendlease, and Aveo exceeds $44 million July to December.

The point? As marketers, we must be aware of the increasing advocacy in our markets, together with their increasing organisation and sophistication. If you are not ready and you don’t have a response plan, your brand (the ‘trust’) will suffer.



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