Coles has appointed former Foster’s marketer Cameron MacFarlane to put some weight behind the supermarket giant’s lacklustre alcohol retail brands.
While the company’s marketing focus has primarily been on its supermarket brand in recent times, MacFarlane has joined with a brief to breathe new life into Coles retail outlets Liquorland, First Choice Liquor and Vintage Cellars.
His first task is to focus on First Choice Liquor, working with Coles’ existing roster of creative agency Big Red, media agency MBThree, digital agency The Royals, instore specialist Whippet and PR shop Liquid Ideas.
But MacFarlane did not rule out working with other agencies on Liquorland and Vintage Cellars.
“My primary focus is on First Choice. But as we shift our attention to Liquorland and Vintage Cellars in the run-up to Christmas, we will evaluate the best partners to work with,” he said.
“I’ve been watching what Coles supermarkets has achieved in the last three to four years – 14 consecutive quarters of growth is phenomenal,” he said.
“But it’s our turn now. I’ve been brought in to invigorate Coles’ liquor brands. It’s one of the great marketing challenges in the country, with a great base to build from.”
MacFarlane’s CV includes high-profile stints at HJ Heinz, where he was marketing director, and Fosters, where he was marketing director for the brewing giant’s New Zealand operation.
He joins Coles as general manager of marketing, liquor.
“First Choice Liquor is the first cab off the rank. Let’s see what we can do. But before Christmas, they’ll be a lot of excitement put into Liquorland. It’s the best known liquor brand in the country. But we need to give more personality,” he said.
A campaign behind First Choice kicked off with a cinema push this week, with TV, radio and online to follow. One of the slogans used is ‘Drinking better for less’. Skinner signs off some ads with the phrase ‘Happy drinking’.
MacFarlane said that there are some similarities between First Choice’s advertising – fronted by wine expert Matt Skinner – and the Curtis Stone-led supermarkets campaign characterised by reworked cheesy music hits.
“There will be some similarities with the way Matt is used. We don’t want to take ourselves too seriously,” he said.
Skinner will be used as a “curator, a facilitator” to popularise wine for the masses, MacFarlane added. Skinner is to front around 50 online seminars for wine drinkers.