OzeSauce no more: Won't somebody please have an idea to save Dick Smith?

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 15 October 2014
Dick Smith. Photo: Frances Mocnik.

Dick Smith is poised to close down his Australian-made food brand if something drastic doesn't happen to turn around the fortunes of the range after turnover plummeted 40%. So come on creatives – Dick Smith needs you.

A year ago, Smith took out a full page ad in AdNews calling on young creatives to rally around and come up with a creative campaign to raise the appeal of buying Australian and boost sales. Smith was begging for a next generation Neville Corbet or John Singleton to come up with a low cost, “genius” marketing idea to save the range. At the time he told AdNews if something didn’t turn around the fortunes of the food range he would “give up and move to Monaco”.

No such luck.

In December, Smith was lamenting the lack of any such ideas turning up. Despite more than 250 responses to the ad, there wasn’t one “unique idea” among them, Smith told AdNews in December.

He reiterated it this morning telling AdNews: “I was looking for something really bright and different but we got nothing – about 300 people wrote to us with the typical boring ads that just follow what's predictable, but we wanted something out of left field, and so that's one of the reasons [the brand might close],” he said.

But, he's looking for good ideas, at minimal cost because “If we spend money on advertising, we can't give anything to charity,” he added.

The food range, launched 15 years ago by Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, diverts all profits to charity - something Smith wanted to better communicate to Aussies through in-store marketing. Last year it donated more than $1 million, but plummeting sales means this year, that has halved. Overall it has donated more than $6 million to charities.

Low demand for the Aussie made range, of spreads, peanut butter, cereals and more, has meant sales are dwindling and if it doesn't turn around within the next year, it won't be worth carrying on, he told AdNews today.

At one point the brand was turning over $80 million a year, but the higher cost of an Australian-made product is more than most shoppers are happy to bear, and sales have tumbled. Smith, a staunchly patriotic and often controversial character, told AdNews today that he needed one in 10 Australians to buy into the range, but only around one in 25 were buying, opting instead for cheaper, imported products.

“It's predictable – most people just buy the cheapest. Aussies don't buy the cheapest cars or handbags, so why food? Why would Australian women buy the cheapest handbag? They want something that gives them satisfaction. You'd think it would be the same with food,” he said.

Smith has already closed its general store and hamper business, which he said was losing $8000 a month.

See the orginal ad here

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