By Brierley Penn
“New Zealand brand perception has been created over the past 100 years,” said Marco Marinkovich, CEO of Creative Bank at the 2013 China Business Summit. “Perception is reality.”
“If I said Ronald Regan, you would think Watergate. If I said Bill Clinton, you would think Monica. If I said Lance Armstrong, you would think drug cheat.” It is vital that New Zealand’s reputation can be rebuilt following the botulism scare, to ensure that Brand NZ does not become associated in China with “milk products and poison”, he said.
Marinkovich emphasized the importance of retaining a top quality brand in China, particularly in light of the one child policy. This creates an imperative for parents to be highly protective and attentive to the food products to which their child is exposed. As Theo Spierings pointed out, “Consumers know exactly what they’re buying… They are very, very aware of every ingredient in milk products.”
The lack of a disaster recovery strategy to deal with the wake of the botulism scandal was cited as staggering by Marinkovich. He believed that greater planning was needed to be done to ensure that New Zealand was better prepared to deal with the fall out from a crisis in the future. Marinkovich cited investment in an integrated Brand NZ campaign in China, amounting to more than just a PR move, and ensuring that corrupt cowboy operators are not permitted to trade on the Brand NZ name as being important steps in this regard.