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War of fruity words waged as internal cider conflict rips Monteith's apart

It's not unusual to see companies extolling the virtues of their own products and criticising the products of their rivals. But it's much more unusual to see a battle raging between two products from the same company. Well, that's exactly what's happening with Monteith's new campaign for its crushed pear cider. And it kicked off in fine, confusing and rather unique style with a fake protest at the DB Breweries Waitemata site.

Youtube Video

As DB staff arrived at work on 23 August, they were greeted by a mob of seemingly heated protesters, humorous placards in hand, in support of apples as protestors pleaded with the staff to avoid ‘pear-shaped lies’. Initiated by Monteith's agency Running with Scissors, the ‘protest’ was the first iteration of the tongue in cheek, pun-filled campaign to launch its new pear cider, which sees the new variant claim superiority and take on its slightly older apple-based stablemate.

2009 was a bit of a watershed year for cider in New Zealand, and particularly for Monteith's crushed apple cider, which managed to snaffle nearly 30 percent of the total category. 131,513 more litres were sold in December 2009 than the year previous, which was a massive 139 percent increase, but consumption is still in its infancy here and it is still not that widely known versus other alcohol categories.

So the challenge was to launch Monteith’s new pear variety, bestow its many virtues and ensure it was clearly differentiated from a product that is still relatively new to the market. And the answer Running With Scissors came up with was to take comparative advertising, usually the preserve of mortal enemies, and use it in an unexpected, light-hearted way.

“The idea has enabled us to promote two products at the same time and talk about the product benefits in an engaging and refreshing way,” says Friday O’Flaherty, easily the most facially hirsute of the Running with Scissors leaders. "...We selected a few members of our eclectic creative team, including an orchardist for the initial idea generation and we then handpicked diverse and interesting specialists for development and implementation. Quality of implementation is as important as the idea itself and, as we don’t carry fixed overheads for delivery, we’re able to engage the best individuals or agencies to deliver in their specialist area."

Russell Browne, Monteith’s marketing manager says Monteith’s is a brand aimed at savvy drinkers and it’s great to be able to create a campaign that’s full of wry humour and breaks a few rules.

"And believe me, we broke a few rules with the staged protest, but it certainly made everyone internally stop and pay attention. The staff here are still talking about it now."

Apparently, no-one from DB, aside from the brand manager, knew the fake protest was taking place. So confusion reigned. And, because the actors, as actors are wont to do, fully got into their roles, it was fairly realistic (and at times fairly heated).

“We’re really pleased with the way the core [ahem] idea has been translated into so many mediums and how well Running with Scissors has collaborated with our partner agencies, especially Apollo [which did the instore promotions], on this project," Browne says. "We have a campaign we’re really pleased with and it has been executed with a refreshing amount of ease.”

The campaign began last weekend and will be portrayed in print, radio (for example MTH013-15-P1 and MTH013-15-A1), online, in bars and liquor outlets and a few other unexpected places that are yet to be revealed.

If you feel like piping up with your opinion on this bitter stoush, visit www.monteiths.co.nz/applevpear (and if you're keen to see a filmic piece de resistance, check out the rather entertaining Running With Scissors 'corporate video').

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