Marketing: Bundaberg says it may look at ways to address the Australian urban myth of its iconic rum brand as a ‘fighting drink', following stories in the national press this week labelling it the tipple of yobbos.
The issue began with stories in the Queensland press that a small group of bars and pubs were refusing to sell the brand, saying that it made drinkers aggressive. The stories then were picked up nationally, with News Limited's TheDaily Telegrapheven running an online survey asking people to email their comments through.
Some of the reports mentioned research that had linked Bundaberg Rum to increased violence in drinkers.
Bundaberg Distilling Company chairman Tony Scanlan, said the company was "concerned but not worried" at this stage but was taking the matter seriously. He said the company was still in the process of trying to establish if the research did actually exist.
Scanlan said Bundaberg was well aware of the reputation that Bundaberg had long carried of being connected with aggression, and had worked to position the brand away from the image. The urban myth problem is a similar one to that which dogged McDonald's and prompted the fast-food company to launch a series of ads to dispel it.
"It is one of those urban myths that is out there but in the research that we do and the focus groups, we have found it is generally the occasional or non-user of the brand that talks about it," Scanlan said.
Scanlan said that in the past 10 years the brand's marketing strategy had used the familiar bear icon to position Bunbaberg Rum as a sociable, and fun brand.
"It's been shown as having a bit of larrikin but always in a good-humoured way, in a social atmosphere, not drinking to excess," Scanlon said.
Scanlon said the company was initially responding to the coverage with a PR campaign to ensure it got its position across. He said that the company may look at further specific marketing activity in the future to address the myth around the brand.
"It has had a lot of publicity and we did not want this at all, but we will try to use this to dispel the myths about the sugar content and the aggression," he said.