Aussie John: Waterhouse failed to understand TV is a ‘sensitive space’

Tom Waterhouse’s mistake was his failure to recognise television screens as a “sensitive space”, according to Aussie Home Loans’ John Symond.

“Tom invaded their free space where they were relaxing. They didn’t want that,” said Symond.

Speaking on “The Face of the Brand” panel at the Mumbrella360 conference today, Symond weighed in on bookmaker Tom Waterhouse’s recent step back from television screens.

“You’ve got to understand your product and where there’s a market need, and I don’t think the footy shows have a need for a bookmaker,” he said.

Symond was joined on the main stage by other familiar faces. Boost Juice boss Janine Allis, Lorna Jane creator Lorna Jane Clarkson and online tech marketer Ruslan Kogan also spoke on the advantages and responsibilities of publicly fronting their own brands.

Clarkson said that Waterhouse’s appearance gave the sense of him wanting to take punters’ money. She told the audience that success in business is often the result of giving consumer an experience they love.

“We weren’t chasing money. We felt that we wanted to deliver to people something that we were experiencing and we loved and we wanted to share it with other people, and I think people are more receptive to those stories,” said Clarkson.

Allis stressed the importance of brands responding in a timely and honest fashion, in times of crisis.

“People actually understand that shit does happen, but it’s what you do about it. You can see many examples of companies doing it poorly, and some are doing it very well,” said Allis

The panel agreed that fronting your own brand was a great responsibility, especially when facing criticism.

“If you’re fronting the brand and the consumers think Aussie is John Symond, then John Symond’s got to come out and make a statement“, said Symond.

Kogan’s approach was more blunt.

“If anyone doesn’t like what I’m saying, then I’m happy for them not to like what I’m saying. It’s all about being the face of the brand and being out there in the open,” said Kogan.

“The best crisis management is to make sure the crisis doesn’t happen. We’re in it because we have certain values and certain beliefs and we stand by them twenty four hours a day so a crisis shouldn’t happen.”

Jack Fisher


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