Raunchy Moa prospectus ads 'world first', says Ross

The cover image of Moa's investment statement and prospectus. Photo / supplied
The cover image of Moa's investment statement and prospectus. Photo / supplied

The inclusion in a prospectus of paid advertising for luxury cars, shotguns, scented candles and Working Style suits is thought to be a "world first" by Moa director and brand guru Geoff Ross.

Released yesterday, the prospectus is one of the first to be issued under the Financial Markets Authority's new guidelines, which specify offer documents should be concise and not overuse brand imagery or irrelevant material.

The 132 page blurb channels a mix of the Mad Men TV series and up-market men's magazine FHM, featuring black and white shots of Moa's all-male board and management striking macho poses in sharply cut suits, while attractive women in black skirts, white blouses and ties fondle cigars and bottles of Moa.

A section headlined "Investment Highlights" appears beside one such full page photograph, while in another, Moa general manager Gareth Hughes taps out a cigar into an ashtray a model is holding above her head.

Advertisements in the prospectus include plugs for Aston Martin sports cars and Beretta rifles, while a naked woman on a horse promotes Ecoya scented candles, which Ross floated on the NZX in late 2010.

The FMA says it saw and OK'd the document, and that its role was to support the production of compelling, readable investment statements.

"We don't seek to stifle innovation," said Sue Brown, the FMA's head of regulatory operations. "Innovation is an important part of promoting growth in New Zealand's capital markets."

"The key information potential investors need to make informed investment decisions is carried in the first three sections of Moa's Investment Statement, which is free of advertising and imagery.

"We are not, and do not seek to be, an arbiter of good taste."

The regulator was "satisfied that the Moa Investment Statement meets the legal requirements."

However, that process was not all plain sailing. Moa took early versions to the FMA for advice and ended up stripping out all advertising and other extraneous material for the first 14 pages, covering the statutory requirements of the "investment statement" section. This outlines key elements and risks of the offer, although financial information, projections and disclosures about directors' interests fall later in the document.

Ross told BusinessDesk the document targeted the 30 to 50 year-old, high income men that Moa seeks as both customers and investors as it pushes to create an identifiably New Zealand brand in the fast-growing boutique beer market, especially the US.

"It is somewhat Mad Men," he said, appealing to "men who want moments of manhood."

"If you go to (Wellington waterfront restaurant) Shed 5 on a Friday, there a whole lot of guys in suits having a drink. It's their vernacular, their mentality."

Ross said part of the Moa proposition was the company's branding smarts, while the FMA was focused on "ensuring that people read the investment statement and that it's an engaging document."

"In many ways, it highlights the core elements of the offer."

Ross believed the inclusion of paid advertising for other brands in a prospectus was "a world first", although not all investors are impressed.

"I know beer companies always sail close to the wind on advertising," said professional investor Aaron Bhatnagar. "But having them advertise unrelated products for other companies in a financial statement? I think it's great we have new companies come onto the NZX, and we should have a culture of start-ups, but I'm not sure this helps."

The paid spots had helped offset, but not covered the cost of publishing the prospectus, Ross said.

* An earlier version of this story inaccurately stated that the prospectus included an advertisement for "Gin Wigmore's fashion label". The image of Gin Wigmore in the prospectus is in fact part of an ad for Partridge Jewellers.

- BusinessDesk

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