The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Moa investors slam 'misogynistic' marketing

An image from Moa's 2012 initial public offering prospectus.
An image from Moa's 2012 initial public offering prospectus.

Craft brewer Moa was criticised for its lack of female board directors and "misogynistic" marketing at its annual shareholders' meeting in Auckland yesterday.

Investors gathered at the firm's Grey Lynn headquarters, where new product lines and soon-to-be released social media advertising were unveiled.

The marketing included video clips featuring talking beer bottles.

One of the bottles is voiced by a woman with an American accent, who discusses - amongst other things - getting a Botox procedure done.

Moa shareholder Jenny Miller took exception to that clip and raised her concerns with the company's chief executive, Geoff Ross, during question time.

"As a female, I find the ... ad with the American lady and botox, a bit ditzy, really unacceptable," Miller said, adding that Moa's all-male board of directors could do with a female addition.

In response, Ross said he accepted Miller's point about the board, while the intention of advertisement was to "stereotype American culture not female culture".

He said Moa's marketing needed to speak to "a number of different audiences".

"Some may not be appropriate to some targets but we hope that other pieces of our communication are appropriate to a more female-orientated target," Ross said.

Ross' wife, Justine, then addressed the meeting.

"I have to interject here - just by reassurance, there is a woman behind the man," she said, referring to her husband.

"This [how women receive Moa's marketing] is a conversation we are constantly having in our home and I would hope that it's happening in all the homes of the board members ... just so you know, that's definitely on my agenda."

It's not the first time Moa's marketing - targeting largely at male beer drinkers - has ruffled feathers.

The prospectus for the company's 2012 initial public offering was criticised for its Mad Men style photographs featuring Moa's directors and senior managers in sharp suits and young women in short skirts.

Another shareholder, this one male, also questioned how the brewer's marketing appealed to women.

"Fifty per cent of our potential market are women and many of them already drink craft beer, but Moa's packaging seems to only involve men and I wonder If we're doing enough to market our product to women," he said.

The shareholder said he had met a woman at the supermarket who liked Moa beer but found the branding " very misogynistic".

"She said, 'Don't they realise that women also like craft beer?'"

Meanwhile, Bruce Parkes, of the New Zealand Shareholders Association, told the meeting that Moa had a "very capable" board but the investor group would like to see another independent director added.

"Your question is a good one and it's one that has been discussed with the board," chairman Ashley Waugh said in response.

"No decision has been made as to whether we will have another director because at this stage of the board's journey and the business' journey we feel that the board is relatively well balanced."

Ross told the meeting that Moa was making good progress towards profitability.

"You can see a point emerging in the future where Moa moves into profit and we believe that big investment phase - a lot of the heavy lifting - for Moa has been done," he said.

"We've got to keep the pace up and keep costs down and concentrate on margin."

Sydney-based research provider Fat Prophets slapped a "high-risk buy" recommendation on Moa shares earlier this month, while also flagging the potential for the company to become a takeover target.

The report noted that Moa's cashflow position had improved, saying the risk of the company having to raise additional capital had reduced and quality management and brand momentum meant "profitability is only around the corner".

Moa's annual result, reported in April, showed signs of improvement with the company narrowing its loss to $2.9 million from $5.6m a year earlier, while boosting volumes and cutting operating costs.

Moa shares, which have gained more than 60 per cent since June 20, closed steady at 88c on Friday, still well below their $1.25 IPO price.

Waugh and fellow director Allan Scott were re-elected to the board at the meeting, while PwC was re-appointed as auditor.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf03 at 01 Oct 2016 08:14:19 Processing Time: 874ms