Messina skips paid ads for two scoops of social

By Rebecca Chambers | 30 September 2014

Sydney-based gelato brand Messina claims paid advertising is a “waste of money”.

The local brand says instead it relies on local, social advertising,  and while rival Sydney ice cream store Cow and Moon beat it to the title of 'best gelato in the world', Gelato Messina is doing all the right things on social media.

Taking advantage of the #foodie trend of taking pictures of food and posting it on social pages, much of Gelato Messina’s social content is food porn. It's simple but well-received. Gelato Messina boasts a queue out the door most days and nights, with more than 60,000 followers on Instagram and the same on Facebook. The local brand achieved this feat without using any paid marketing.

Declan Lee, co-owner of Gelato Messina explains: “We let the product speak for itself in many ways. Images are everything. We also like to maintain a very specific tone of voice that’s friendly and inviting to all. It’s not aimed solely at Gen Y or Millennials, it’s really about appealing to everyone. Our tone of voice must match the product.”


With names for  special flavours like, “Vovovroom” an ‘iced vo-vo’ style gelato, “Robert Brownie Jnr” and “This is how we scroll”, a gelato flavour that includes chunks of Oregano Bakery scrolls, Gelato Messina engages its audience through humour and visual aesthetics.

It recently used Instagram to crowd source a flavour, asking fans to suggest a recipe they would like to be made by the company, the flavour was aptly titled, 'Crowd Saucin''.

Messina doesn't have any official ties with brands, but it gets a lot of approaches from brands keen to tap into its community.

Lee added: “We do a lot of collaborations with many brands but nothing that’s contractual. We love it. We don’t spend money on advertising or marketing as such. For me, development of our brand is about partnering with like-minded brands on interesting projects.”

Recent collaborations include Bill Granger, Williams Sonoma, Oregano Bakery, Bugaboo, Pottery Barn and Virgin Mobile AU. Messina's other co-founder and head chef for Carpiagiani Nick Palumbo has also made several guest appearances on MasterChef Australia, which has helped build a national presence for the brand.

Lee stresses how honesty is key to the brand's success: “We’ve grown a loyal fan base by living up to our brand promise. We make the best product we possibly can, from the best ingredients. Honesty in the message and in the process is critical. The rest is easy! We innovate, we are honest, and we create an experience around the product, from customer service to lighting in-store, to music, to the gelato quality.”

While Lee says the team doesn’t measure ROI of its activity, Messina’s large social following has no doubt added to the bottom line and grown awareness. It opened its first store in Melbourne earlier this year and plans to open three more stores by the end of 2014.


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