This was one of the least surprising developments in the local beer industry. Moa started out cloaked in faux-exclusivity, long before they leapt into bed with arch-brandwanker Geoff Ross (of 42 Below vodka fame). He, and much of his old team, integrated pretty seamlessly with the company’s image-first approach, gave it a polish-and-makeover, and have set about making their money. Though not by selling beer, as such.1 These guys — and they are guys — don’t lower themselves to anything so unfashionable as that. They’re in the business of selling businesses and of building brands rather than inherently-worthy products.
So here they are launching their IPO. If it all goes as planned, they’ll raise ~$15M, while retaining control for everyone who’s already involved in ownership and management. Which is unremarkable, of course, but the really predictable part — depressingly so, in fact — is the tone of the document itself. It is needlessly, aggressively, and pointlessly gendered and bursting with wank. You wonder how they didn’t have second thoughts at some point before sending it off to the printers, but they’ve got such an ‘impressive’ record of homophobia, misogyny and tired marketing blather that they must just mutter this shit in their sleep, these days.
The IPO document is explicitly aimed at men, and Geoff Ross also can’t seem to manage to speak in gender-neutral terms to the press. They seem to entirely dismiss half the population, and completely discount the idea that women might a) drink their beer, b) want to invest in their company, or c) exist as anything other than ornament for shallow motherfuckers in expensive suits.
The subtitle of the whole document is “Your Guide to Owning a Brewery and Other Tips for Modern Manhood”, and the gendered references flow freely: “The relationship men form with beer is staunch” and their “aspiring drinkers” are “those in the super-premium end of modern manhood” (p48). The cut-away sections on angling, tailoring and pistol duels (of all things), are all targeted solely at “gentlemen”, and the one giving ‘advice’ on opening doors for other people is pitched entirely at men and the subject of the door-opening is always female, but for one throwaway homophobic jab. The only mention of women as consumers of their products is in the section on cider (p91), which — for anyone actually involved in the industry, or who bothers to attend a beer festival or go to a beer bar — is so ludiciously laughable and out of date that it begins to explain why they retreated to an aesthetic from decades ago.
Geoff Ross explicitly notes the connection to Mad Men as a reference that informed the ‘look’ of the document. But it’s all so hopelessly contrived and fake. Surely, if you are trying to be Don Draper, you are necessarily failing to be Don Draper.2 And if you missed the dark undertones of the actual series — that a life of form over substance is hollow and bleak, and that basically all the promises of the vaunted ‘Golden Age of Advertising’ were always complete bullshit — then you really should pay some fucking attention. Like so many others, they completely fail to understand the basic difference between sexy and sexist. And it’s so desperately artificial that they don’t come across with any confidence or swagger; the Suits just look like a tragically insecure bunch.
All they can brag about is that their IPO document has ads in it, and might be the first to do so — as if anyone could be fucked raising their hands for a single clap to that milestone, if it indeed is one.3 The advertisers they’ve chosen ring as hollow as the rest of it: Aston Martin, Working Style, Ecoya — precisely the same brand-first, style-over-substance conspicuous consumption horseshit that Moa are transforming otherwise-often-worthy beer into. It’s all just part of the con, but I can never tell if the Moa executives are just trying to trick their potential customers and investors or if they’ve fallen into the sad trap of fooling themselves.
The incessant drone is that they make “super-premium” beer, a term they invented for themselves and invoke nauseatingly often.4 But they never even commit to their points of difference. The interestingly unique beer once universally-known as Moa ‘Original’ was moved off the front line and a blander, more mainstream-friendly pale lager was re-named ‘Original’ in its place — to better hoodwink the Heineken Drinker, one assumes. Bottle-conditioning, which they misleadingly associate with wine-making and falsely portray as ‘unique’, isn’t used on as many bottle sizes or varieties as it initially was. Their hefty 375ml bottles were once touted as a unique feature, but Moa recently took them out of circulation for another whole ‘tier’ of their range to save a fraction of cash per unit. And there’s something dreadfully uncomfortable about presenting a ‘super-premium’ beer being drunk from the bottle by their executives (and one of the models)5 in the IPO. These guys are the very definition of being ‘all hat, no cattle’ — and it’s not even a very nice hat, on closer inspection; it’s a gaudy, blinged-up knockoff.
The figures and discussions of money are at least stale enough to not stink of the wank that pervades the rest of the document, and feature some interesting data. Right now, Moa owe one million dollars cash to the BNZ (p110). That’s basically their overdraft, they’ve maxed it out, and they plan to use a chunk of the IPO just to pay it back — so one out of every fifteen average new investors can feel the glow of pride of merely being used to service existing debt. Another one from each hypothetical fifteen are being used purely to pay the damn-near-innumerable fees and bits of gravy-taking that launching something like this entails. The financials are a little opaque, to me, but were the subject of heaping quantities of derision and scorn from people I know who know better. They’re not pretty, certainly; Moa are running a stonking great big seven-figure loss, and have no real plan to do otherwise for a long while yet.
And for all they like to crow about having a small, nimble team with the ability to leverage low-cost high-result marketing (and all that guff), they’re looking to plow more than a million bucks a year into that department (p109), and plan to ape the boring old strategy of handing over dirty-great wodges of cash to bars to just buy branding and pouring rights outright.6 But worse than that, they’re utterly fucking shameless about their history of ginning up (pseudo-)controversy, duping the media into giving them free coverage7 — and seem happy to signal that such nonsense, even of the blatantly race-baiting or pathetically-bigoted kinds, will continue. Sunil Unka, the Marketing Manager, is quoted (p81) as having a “What’s the worst that can happen?” mantra when justifying his tactics.
But there’s just the merest hint of hope that this shit has finally outstayed its welcome; the blow-back online has been pure joy to watch. The lampoonings of their rather desperate “moments of manhood” language has, in particular, produced gold. Hadyn Green’s excellent piece on Public Address yesterday was circulated deservedly widely, Emma Hart posted an insightful follow-up as I was writing this, and the mainstream press made (fairly gentle) mention of the critical response — though Geoff Ross didn’t think (or feel obliged) to do anything other than double-down on their needlessly and explicitly gendered approach.
For the last day or so, certainly, Moa have been unusually quiet on channels where they’re usually chatty and boastful.9 Indeed, the only communication I’ve seen from anyone at all related to their camp was intemperate criticism of my writing style by someone personally connected to the Moa executive (but not professionally involved with the company).10 They are, it’s fair to say, hardly being their defiant and proud selves. Maybe, just goddamn maybe, there are conversations going on about whether they’ve fucked up this time. Honestly, though, I doubt it. These guys seem committed to this bullshit; it is, in Geoff Ross’ wank-tastic phrase11 “their vernacular, their mentality”.
I just can’t join in the (heartwarmingly relatively faint) chorus of “it’s not to my taste, but more power to them”. To employ the obvious metaphor — rather than, you know, spending thousands of dollars on suits, cigars, and a photoshoot only to have the attempted aesthetic misfire and make me look like a complete poser — I’m looking forward to this Moa going as extinct as its namesake. Go read about them, instead. They’re vastly more worthy of your time.
Postscript, 14 October, 9:05pm: This piece has just attracted a rather vile and hateful comment. I’m in two minds about whether to leave it up or delete it (for its tone and bigoted language, not for merely ‘disagreeing’ with me) but am leaving it up for now. The advice often given on the internet is “don’t read the comments”, lest you see the level to which some people sink to and how far civilisation has yet to go. Reader discretion is therefore strongly advised, but I think the comment is illustrative of an attitude that still exists in greater frequency than we might hope.
1: Absolutely mandatory caveat: the guy who actually does make the beer — Dave Nicholls; no matter how much their ‘brand story’ relies on Josh Scott being cast as the ‘executive brewer’ (whatever that might even be), Dave’s the actual brewer — is talented and a genuinely awesome dude. He makes some great beers (and plenty that aren’t to my personal tastes, not that that matters a damn), and has had more than a few sensible things to say about the problem of excessive marketing. He’s not the rat-pack type that the IPO document has him dressed up as — unlike every other Moa staffer I’ve met.
2: Thanks to George for the pop-culture consult on this one. I’m told that the sharper reference is to point out that the Moa Suits have just made themselves all into Pete Campbell.
3: And it’s hardly inkeeping with the rules on IPO documents being concise and limited into their use of brand imagery and irrelevancies, as the NBR noted.
4: At least twenty times in the IPO document, and jarringly often in the “business description” section.
5: Of all the images from the IPO photoshoot, just one of the Moa beers appears in a glass — with the model from the Ashtray Photo, as she perches on the edge of a table (p46). She swigs from the bottle in another shot, however (p16).
6: Ignoring their own Tip No. 10: “You can’t become a leader by following someone else. Most businesses are convinced this is not true.” Instead, they’re copying tactics from the Mainstream Big Two, and marketing themselves just like 42 Below did. Yawn. Where’s that much-vaunted ‘creativity’?
7: The write-up on Moa ‘Breakfast’ (p48) naturally fails to mention that their ‘trailblazing’ product was just a re-naming of an existing beer, ‘Harvest’. The “launch” was transparently a scam, and way too many people fell for it.
8: The setup turns out to be, presumably intentionally, a reference to a cigar ad of the Mad Men / Golden Age era. Which, of course, amounts to no kind of excuse. And that’s not some runaway photoshoot director’s inappropriate imagery; the General Manager himself posed for that.
9: Maybe they — finally — took the advice of their epically-smug Tips, No. 6 of which advises that you close your social media accounts and pre-emptively shut the fuck up (p15).
10: This section — and the original contents of this footnote — have been provisionally edited, after a discussion with the person involved. A barb about the idiosyncratic overuse of italics in my ‘Hello again’ post was published on Twitter, but during the writing of this piece (which was, after all, foreshadowed in the previous), its author silently deleted it. The text of this section initially named them and explained their close (but undeclared) connection to the Moa executive. Soon after the publication of this post, that person contacted me directly, asking that I delete the reference. Since the post was already ‘out there’, I offered instead to include their explanation in this footnote, but they pleaded extenuating circumstances, and (against my usual stickler nature on matters editorial) I’ve anonymised the reference. It feels weird to be magnanimous toward the Moa camp, broadly defined, but these things happen; never be afraid to try new things.
11: He seems unaware of how dated the reference to Shed 5 sounds; it’s hardly the prestigious or fashionable venue it once was (not that I give a fuck about that, but he clearly does). Also, they don’t serve Moa. Indeed, 85% of their beer list is just mass-market lager.
47 thoughts on “The Moa IPO”
Hah. The dead link made me laugh.
Its good to have a proper Phil rant again.
I think its amazing that they had an existing image to work to for that cigar photo and they still did a shitty job. How much of a rush were they in?
is the executive summary of Moa.
n.b.: Tim’s reference to the “dead link” concerns the post as it originally appeared. See footnote 10 for a explanation of what happened in the few hours after I hit “Publish”.
Hear hear, very well said.
I always thought the term ‘super premium’ was the only vaguely self aware and ironic part of the Moa brand. After this load of tosh, I am not so sure. What I find really sad is how unsurprised by this IPO prospectus I am – basically Moa cannot even match my lowered expectations any more.
Yeah, I remember having hopes that “super-premium” was ironic, too. But apparently not. They often do have the appearance of a scam that has tipped into a cult, don’t they? Like initially they were being intentionally manipulative and ‘clever’, but at some point fell for their own lines. It is, I’ll freely admit, fascinating to watch.
Well well well I heard about this green eyed Tugger bashing the Moa Brand and how much shit
that he is wanking on about,
So I just had to check it out for my self, And I noticed that there was about 4-5 followers,
fuck me is that all you have, I thought to my self no wonder your a bitter motherfucker anyone
with half a dozen mates must be a lonely,
And I couldn’t help but notice you spoke a lot about Wanking,Brand Wank,Bursting with Wank,
Stink of a Wank,
I TAKE IT YOUR A FAN OF WANKING
And correct me if I’m wrong reading between the lines your Gay
no wonder your so bitter,,, its about the T-shirt ad campaign a few months ago,Grow the fuck up
you pole smoking,arse eating faggot.
oh and yes I’m sure you delete all the negative shit so this wank web page looks good for you
now who’s turning the Media in there favour
Be a man keep it on
So…. I don’t normally do this… but I’m going to feed the troll.
Hello, Ra. How’s it going. Did you have anything actually constructive you’d like to say? I *think* right now you fall in this category: http://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ad-hominem
If you have anything to say about this article other than assault on the person who wrote it, then actually we’d all be fascinated to hear it. Please enlighten us on what Moa really meant.
seek help urgently.
Jeez it’s hard to find a good troll these days..
Brilliant article Phil. I used to think the geniuses behind the marketing of Crown Ambassador Reserve Lager (look it up if you haven’t heard of it) had a mortgage on the wank trophy, but no longer. Moa in a canter.
It always makes me laugh how trolls can never get “you’re” and “their” right. As if all the vacuous abuse wasn’t already enough to make them look bad!
Hey Ra… I’m glad Phil left your post up for us all to view. Use your real name eh?… otherwise it’s all gutless BS. I’ve had my goes at Phil, but he’s spot on wit hthis one regarding Moa. Check the shareprices and general cycnicism Ross and co have generated.
What Amy said plus Ra isn’t too common a name. Any chance it’s this guy on the Allan Scott staff directory? – http://www.allanscott.com/profile/staff_directory.asp
I’m also going to chime in here. Ra has been quickly identified as an idiot troll, let’s leave it at that.
Is it convenient to hate on a business, so vehemently because it doesn’t adhere to your worldview?
Please enlighten me as to how a growing business, supporting growth within an industry, providing jobs within a region and also selling the idea of a well crafted product to the mainstream is an absolutely negative thing because of how it’s brand is positioned?
The appearance of (mild, at best) misogyny within the IPO document is simply a means to an end.
It quickly, succinctly and actually intelligently supported the marketing line from MOA, to people who never even knew craft beer in New Zealand existed on the level it does.
I believe this to be a win for everybody who isn’t the big two, actually, three if you ( and the author evidently does) independent liquor aka boundary road.
Not everybody’s cup of tea, granted, but the vitriol from this commentary regarding the marketing of this brand within an investment document is way, way over the top. Yes, any quick google search of examples of misogyny in advertising pulls up some horrific examples, and unfortunately, the alcohol industry is overrepresented most likely.
But what of the fashion industry? The Motor vehicle industry? they have been beating that drum for decades.
But oh my, the absolute outrage that they co-opted a well recognised, successful and engaging theme for the promotion of THIER beer in MY industry – this will not do!
They have just achieved everything they wanted to achieve with this document, got people discussing the brand.
Yes, branding and positioning of this nature is not new at all – if there is an issue here it’s the completely biased and hypocritical position the author takes on this line of marketing.
Parrotdog’s Bitterbitch? no? nothing at all wrong there?
Trip Hop/ Pernicious Weed from perennial favourites Garage Project? – yes, Moa got in trouble for saying ” It Smells Like Dak , Bro ” but the references aren’t facetious, at all?
If you’re going to criticise from a moral standpoint at least be consistent.
As for your grasp, at best tenuous, of understanding the point of an IPO, particularly this one – your inferences on MOA’s use of cash raised from said offer is misleading.
I’ve actually read the document. Did you?
Servicing debt is referenced at least three times explicitly, and four times further inferenced in other forecast notes, and is a normal actionable outcome of raising capital in a business in a growth phase. What’s the matter with that?
(oh and FYI, listing on the NZX if pretty darn difficult, administratively – thanks to the awesome mess the finance companies created a couple of years back – the regulatory bars that one must jump over to even consider asking joe public for their money, let alone accept it, are high, and on fire – so the FMA was right to state that they are ‘not the arbiters of good taste’, only financial market regulation.)
MOA are also spending the rest of the cash building a larger brewery In Marlborough, on the same site – with the distinct advantage, spelled our clearly in the document – of retaining the ability to move quickly and produce high quality, handcrafted, creative and interesting beer.
Just, on a larger scale.
Just because the branding may infer that the beer is corporate, lifeless and “non crafty” whatever that is.. doesn’t mean that it will start to be made that way.
I don’t know if the author has spent any time in any large brewery, but Samuel Adams is a good case in point. founded by ‘suits’ – Jim Koch worked for the Boston Consulting Group for goodness sake – It’s done more for the promotion of ‘good’ beer on a large scale than almost anybody – or are they ‘brandwankers’ also?
I think also what you’re missing here is that this kind of ‘brand wank’ as you call it isn’t new, and if you’re being honest isn’t particularly notable.
Wine has been doing it for decades in New Zealand – from small family winemakers attributing a ‘terroir’ to their label when they use contract grown grapes and contract bottling – and quelle horreur – have the gall to want to differentiate it through marketing.
Does this make the wine less legitimate? if so how exactly?
I’m still not quite sure what the chip on the author’s shoulder regarding MOA is exactly – perhaps making money?
But what is abundantly clear is that the chip is large and extremely persistent toward the brand.
and the overwhelming majority (in the tens of ones) of readers (judging by comments) have the following position:
I’ll continue to drink MOA, (particularly their St Joseph’s, but also the Original)
I’ll probably invest, and I’ll disagree with most of what you have to say until you get some balance and perspective in your posts.
But that probably won’t happen.
Thanks for your comment; it — unlike Ra’s — is worthy of a proper response, though if I reply to every point I’ll basically just end up re-writing my original piece, since you do seem to be largely talking past my actual position.
Short rejoinders, in order, if you’ll excuse the bulleted format:
So how did your investment go?
Thanks Evelyn Waugh
This is the idiot Troll
Just to get my point across of how pissing people off gets a response
I know that the chip on Phils little narrow shoulders started when Moa put out the T-shirt campaign.
All that shit aside, what is wrong with what Moa is doing??
Mr Scott started the company from scratch with nothing, employed a handful of staff brought everything locally and grew from there.
Now the companies looking for 15 million to invest in,
Doubling production increasing staff,
Keeping the site in Marlborough,still buying produce locally
Its great to see someone stick there neck out and do what they have done especially in Marlborough they could very easily had gone to Wellington or Auckland at their own financial benefit.
I myself have moved from NZ to Perth for the simple reason WORK
55,500 people moved from NZ in 2011 to AUSSIE
I wish more people had the balls to do this type of thing to create work for the average Joe Blow
then people like myself and thousands of others wouldn’t have to ditch there home land for money.
It pisses me off when Muppets like Phil just carry on bagging the shit out of this company time and time again and its founders,
all they are doing is creating work and opportunities and a chance to invest in it, its up to the individual to put money into the company no one is holding a gun to there head.
Thats my wank cheers PHILL
You make a valid point re the entrepreneurship, but you’ve been hoodwinked, and I think that’s what Phil’s on about. Scott didn’t start wit hnothing… Allan Scott et al bankrolled the whole thing. Ross is sitting on the fat end of the $120m he sold 42 Below for, and yet he’s run Moa deep into debt and is now getting sucker investors to bail it out and bankroll his venture. That’s very cycnical entrepreneurism, and the sales backfore thats occured since the float is a direct reflection of this. As for the MadMen bandwagon they’ve jumped on,,, the entire craft beer thing is driven by people who want product not brand cosmetica.. Moa is good stuff, but the whole thing through Ross’ device is utterly cynical. Ands oh, btw… they’re not building the brewery in MArlborough,, some very lurid rumors going on right now as to what’s happening with the investors’ monies. Support real manufacturers ,and good on you Ra for trying, but sort out who the real manufacturers are,and what their real agenda is. Cheers
Adolf Hitler started from the ground up too. He employed thousands of people to get his point of view and vision actuated. It’s great to see a small NZ company attacking minorities to realize their vision too. I raise my forearm to you brother.
Come on RA/MOA, you are going to have to troll better than that if your going to try and get a response good enough to get a mention in the media. While the profanity and homophobia worked well the first time I think you’re going to have to take it to the next level to mobilise the New Zealanders into doing your marketing for you. Perhaps something classy like publicly supporting the activities of the beast of Blenheim, he’s topical with a Marlborough focus. Anyway don’t let me tell you how to do your job, I’m sure you know better than I do how to angry up a mob.
Sean: Fighting trolls with Godwin isn’t much better! 😉
I don’t get it though. Pardon my paraphrasology, but Phil says: “it’s about money, not product, and the tactics used to make that money are dire”.
Phil’s critics say: “You’re saying making money is bad! Tall poppy!”
It’s like the critics aren’t hearing the actual argument being made.
I was amused with Evelyn Waugh’s (why don’t the critics use real names?) satement that the IPO material was OK as it was only mildly misogynistic though. While I agree that we seem to live in a world where any joke now has to be run past the Arbiter Of Humour and Political Correctness, there’s a difference defending something based on it being “in the style of X” and saying “it’s OK because it’s only mildly misogynistic”.
Ra: If you’d lay of the homophobia* and ad hominem attacks, and perhaps learn to use the English language (disregard if it’s a second language to you), you might almost start to make a valid point re: tall poppy syndrome. The problem is that, as I just said, I’m pretty sure that what Phil is calling out is not Moa’s desire to make money, but the way in which they are doing so. Style over substance. Marketing over product.
* I actually have no idea of Phil’s sexuality, though I guess I assumed he was hetero. Seems so. He does have an actual rather than metaphorical beard though! Why would it matter if he was gay though? Are gay people bad? I’m sure that’s not what you meant though. I’m sure some of your best friends are gay.
Greig, I was just getting it to its natural end. Nice Godwin example.
@ Evelyn Waugh…
The name Bitterbitch puts me off quite a bit, I must admit, but did you know “pernicious weed” is actually an historical descriptor for hops dating back around 500 years!
Welcome back. Great piece of writing. Not that I agree with it all… but that is what makes if fun.
I think the branding is very tired, a sad rehash of 42 Below, with a hint of that shirt making company that do the dicky man ads, and a very poor way of alienating a lot of women who could have been great ambassadors for the beer… but I’m certainly not as vehemently opposed to it as a number of the craft beer community are. In fact, I find this kind of thing more offensive to men!
Not being a numbers man, I can’t really comment on the financial section but I think they’re on the right track. Nobody will be buying into this for dividends, so profit is not an issue at all… market share is all that matters if you want to sell out and, at this stage, I’d think that Moa will be more than a little disappointed in their performance. Epic would be a far better buy right now.
Knowing a little bit more about building a brand, or at least having thought about it, I think Moa are doing a sterling effort. Definitely not what I would want to be associated to myself but people who know very little about beer mention them to me all the time. Especially people in their target demographic. Problem is, I don’t think that talk is translating into sales. Not yet. I’m guessing this is why we have seen both their unit size and price drop. A pretty good indicator that they had it wrong, which they admitted in their overly wordy advertisements.
I suspect this IPO will go along just swell, they’ll continue to realise more and more that it isn’t quite as easy as vodka (where they had no competition and a far less informed marketplace), before they sell for a reasonably good amount in a few years. But not as much as they’d hoped for. Either way, the key players will make their return next month. Anything after that is a bonus.
I’ll probably still drink the odd Moa beer, just like I still (even more rarely) drink the odd DB.
Moa make great beer, all they need to do it let it speak not some dude up in Auckland.
Also the girl is nice, I would buy her a Moa.
I often notice, but am rarely riled, by sexist imagery (although when its directed at children it does make me ranty for sure). I’m not quite sure what got to me in this..
If it had been “just” advertising I think I would have just rolled my eyes and moved on, but this is actually a Serious Investment Prospectus, and that means this is genuinely how they perceive / want to pitch THEMSELVES (those aren’t just models, that’s THEM putting out cigars in ashtrays held over women’s heads), and also that their pitch is so very clearly aimed at only one kind of human (the straight, loosely “middle-aged” man kind).
I like beer (many of you may have noticed :))… I’d be delighted in many ways to see some breweries in NZ go IPO so I could own a little part. But the prospectus is so clearly targeted that honestly I’d actually be a little nervous about turning up to any function put on by Moa… I would expect to be treated condescendingly and probably dismissively. And the thing is, the Craft Beer Crowd is (mostly) NOTHING like that. There’s lots of women, like me, and the men are awesome, and the culture is warm and welcoming. So I’m cranky because its clear that they are actively sending a message that I Am Not Welcome at something I’d otherwise be interested in (although let me be the first to say that that is absolutely their right), and I’m also ranty that they are claiming to be part of “my” craft beer culture while violating its heart at every step.
And the real shame is they make some lovely lovely beers, which fit right in with said culture. But every time i consider buying one of them I feel like I’m allowing myself to be wetly licked in the face by a drunk 50 year old suit who maybe used to be handsome when he was 25 but now smells of beer and cigars and 7 different perfumes and keeps trying to grab my ass.
So well said Amy. I think you’ve put words to my sense of unease which I’ve not been able to nail down. They are claiming to be craft beer types, but portraying themselves as no craft beer people I know would ever dream of so doing. I feel like we’ve been fighting to shake off the beards and sandals (and no women – implied by the beards I guess) imagery, only to have it shift to rat pack wannabe douche brigade in one fell swoop of a prospectus.
Sure I’m exaggerating. Nobody can force me to be something just by bandying about a stereotype or attempting to create one for a group I happen be a part of. Still, the attempt rankles.
Firstly, great writing across the board. I’ve been reading for a while and I love your style; the uncensored “don’t give a fuck” attitude is really refreshing.
I agree with your points on the unnecessary and outdated misogyny, and am disgusted at the idea that modern men may want to model themselves on this persona. Mad Men is a great show, and I have respect for most period dramas (Boardwalk Empire is my fave), but why you’d want to bring that same attitude into practice in the present day is beyond me. amyherself’s last post addresses the potential impact of this attitude on modern day women really well.
I disagree with your take on the financial side of the IPO. I’ve read through it (albeit not the WHOLE thing) and at no point do Moa try to mislead or offer up a fishy deal. It’s all very normal figures for a company at their level, including their current liability sheet. If I wasn’t grossed out by the sexist angle they’ve taken, i’d seriously consider investment, and I feel a LOT of less moralistic people than me will indeed be jumping at the chance.
I feel the financial “woes” could have been better informed on your part, or not included at all. You self confess that you don’t really know what your’e talking about – so maybe avoid it?
It LOOKS a little desperate; like you’ve resorted to finding everything you possibly can in the IPO to throw at Moa to additionally tarnish their rep for the sake of it. Which kind of detracts from the good points you’ve made instead of fortifying them, although they still stand strong.
Also, i’m not offended by the ALL of the “brandwank” you describe, but that’s more of a personal taste thing. In my eyes, as long as it’s above the board (unlike some of their other marketing), coining terms like “super premium” to appeal to a mass market of non beer geeks is fine by me. It’s not misleading in the same way DB’s “Tui – East India Pale Ale” is, it’s just seemingly a less bland way of saying “really good”.
One thing that has concerned me recently is your connection with Garage Project. As much as the craft beer scene is a scratchy-back community, there’s no denying on the business side it’s currently a very competitive industry. While it’s still on the rise locally, budding companies like Garage Project and Parrot Dog are likely trying to establish a strong following and supply deals, while bigger companies like Moa or Tuatara are also trying to grow AND hold onto their market sway before the demand eventually plateaus. So while it’s all well and good to say “my opinions are my own and do not reflect the opinions of my employers”, some people (especially new readers) would find it hard to believe that your writing is 100% unbiased because of the commercial implications of publicly damaging a competition brand. It could have a negative impact on your credibility as an impartial writer (not for me, i’m already sold).
It’d be interesting to know how you and your employers feel about this, and how you attempt to juggle both your “beer writer of the year” views, and a job where you must remain professional. They surely must get in the way of each other sometimes? I think it would actually make quite an interesting blog, or maybe just a comment here if that’s a bit overkill.
In that grain, my career requires me to stay anonymous online – so apologies for not disclosing my name or supplying a real email address. I hope that doesn’t make my opinions less credible in your eyes.
Keep it up
Also (he says, quickly throwing another comment up after writing his reply to John, below), I must thank you for this comment. The ethics of disclosure and of conflicts of interest are genuinely fascinating to me — and I hope I stay on the right side of them. I think they’re worthy of a whole post, but I’ll definitely come back here later today and address them in a fuller comment, at least. (Saving the nerdy philosophical discussion of the issue in general for another time.)
I have read through the original post and this subsequent thread twice, I’m not slow, just flabbergasted and confused. As an invested member of the NZ craft beer community (The Brewery Britomart) I embrace what Moa is doing. Sure there is more than a modicum of business initiative behind it, but Moa is, and will be until and unless they are bought up by one of the big three, a Kiwi craft beer brewery and brand. Every craft brewery in NZ is in business to be in business as well as make great beer and Moa is no different, they are just taking their game to a different level.
Having lived through and paid close attention to the craft beer movement in the US from day one (and seen many small breweries grow into larger breweries) I feel confident in saying that you would have never seen such outward criticism of a craft beer brand from a craft beer enthusiast on that side of the Pacific. Regardless of how one may feel about the Moa products, a crafty should recognize the importance of a united front in these formative days of craft beer in NZ. Today all craft beer brands are rising with the tide of the movement. I say good on Moa for wanting to invest in making the tide rise faster. The rest of us in the industry will only benefit.
As to their methods and messages, this is where it seems to have becomes personal (as we have seen in these posts), and this is where I implore craft beer enthusiasts to step back and see the bigger picture. It is just marketing and advertising after all and as Greig points out we don’t have to like it or buy into it. But what we should see is how it expands the craft beer market opportunity. Staying enthusiastic about craft beer in general, regardless of brand preference, is what we need to do at this time in the New Zealand craft beer movement to keep it growing and viable.
I agree with what you say John, but not in this context. Such community support should not be offered to companies who endorse sexism and homophobia. Are you really dismissing this as people taking it too personally? You implore us to look at the bigger picture… it seems we’re looking at a much bigger picture than you are.
I basically couldn’t possibly disagree more. (i.e., with John, rather than Enderman — who posted while I was also composing my reply.)
I think Moa’s tactics, their overt bigotry and their easy writing-off of 50% of the population (i.e., that segment which lack a Y chromosome), and their brand-over-product approach will only harm the industry in the long run, and the craft beer segment in particular.
The “we’re all in this together, aren’t we?” line was explicitly pleaded to me by Moa, and I just can’t go along with it. When it comes to their marketing (which, let’s face it, has become their company’s main focus), I’d hate to see a Venn Diagram wherein I shared a circle with Geoff Ross and his crew.
How far, exactly, would you let a brewery go before you were willing to get over this peculiar commitment to “solidarity” and openly criticise them? Is there literally anything that Moa would do before you think “crafties” should be free to say they’ve gone too far without the person objecting being cast as some sort of traitorous turncoat?
I think that’s a sad attitude for any ‘community’ to have, however loosely defined, and in whatever business. I find Moa’s branding and tactics reprehensible, and so I said so. I firmly believe that a spirit of open, honest criticism — and a willingness to draw the line somewhere (whether you think Moa have here crossed it or not) — could only ever be good for the industry as a whole.
Hi John! I’m curious which bit you embrace / feel is being unreasonably attacked? I think everyone is actually fine (well, somewhere on the scale from not-really-caring to being quite okay with) the idea of them launching an IPO. As you say, growth is great.
The thing I’m struggling with is the two-fold marketing issue.
First up, their positioning in this instance is just straight up exclusive to me, as a woman. I do not feel welcomed, included, or even thought about when reading their IPO document (again, this is not about the IPO itself, it’s about how they’ve chosen to position themselves in said document). They are well within their rights to exclude me if they want, but then they don’t get to say “how come you don’t like us, c’mon, it’s just a joke”, either…
The second thing is the more fraught issue about craft beer culture. When I joined in on all this beery madness as a relative newcomer a couple of years ago, one of the things I immediately loved was that while competitive, there’s a genuine sense of joy in the success of other breweries, and a lot of collaboration and support. Everyone seems to be in it because it’s something they are passionate about, and they enjoy sharing and bringing new people into the fold. The beer people I know are all about converting non-beer people into beer people.
Moa’s marketing totally tries to cash in on the “craft beer” name and market, but doesn’t really play by any of those rules – it markets as exclusive rather than inclusive, it’s quite unpleasant (in my opinion) in its competitiveness with other craft breweries, and it doesn’t appear to join in the spirit of camaraderie very often / visibly. It certainly doesn’t feel like they’re trying to convert people to the beer-fold, just that they want to tell Moa drinkers that they’re better than other people because they drink Moa. High school politics much?
If they positioned themselves as A Beer Company That Makes Good Beer That Is Going Up Against The Big Two (Three), and dropped all the “craft beer” tagging **or** if they kept the craft beer marketing but also talked about their beer being tasty and dropped the image-based crap, I think they’d get almost no flack from anyone. We’d all think that was awesome. I LIKE GOOD BEER. I think there should be more of it! If someone wants to break the duopoly/triopoly, awesome. But stop co-opting the really healthy culture that’s evolved around craft beer and douching all over it – start advertising based on the fact that they make really good BEER instead! Which they seem to adamantly refuse to do, right now!
Is Moa really interested in promoting good beer as a whole, or are they more interested in blowing their own trumpet ad nauseum?
Sure, the rising tide argument is a good reason not to begrudge other breweries successes. I would however point out that Moa is all to keen to give other breweries the finger.
Case in point, this gem:
Ok, they’re taking a dig at the wine industry (including Allan Scott). Very funny. It’s also a pretty big ‘fuck you’ to the likes of Renaissance, 8Wired, Pink Elephant and 666 Brewing.
Or how about this one:
This was Moa’s definition of ‘craft beer’ (yes, I’m opening that can of worms, but I’ll jam the lid back on in a second) that explicitly excluded almost half the breweries in New Zealand. To be fair to Moa, they did back down on this one. But still it was another ‘fuck you’ to any brewery that contracts, licences, has shifted location, changed brewers etc.
My final example?
At the 2011 IPA challenge a Moa Rep spat out Liberty Never Go Back in front of Jo Wood, proclaiming in to be “shit, because it isn’t Moa.” I’d like to say this was a one off case of arrogant behavior, but I’ve seen it before from senior Moa personalities (Not Dave, he’s a top chap).
So I have to wonder, are Moa interested the rising tide? Seem more like the message is “Moa über alles and fuck anyone else,” (oops! I Godwined).
In all seriousness, this smells of fattening the goose for Christmas. I see a repeat of the 42 Below sale in Moa’s future.
John are you really saying that in the interests of growing an industry we should blindly accept whatever a member of that industry does? I can’t agree with that at all. The craft beer world is a supportive one but it doesn’t and shouldn’t be unconditionally so.
I think Moa’s marketing is often intentionally offensive, often has a loose relationship with the truth and uses shock as its main tactic. It’s marketing at someone else’s expense. I don’t think IPO is the worst they have done by a long shot but it is another brick.
I think as a craft community we should be concerned about the image we portrait and I really don’t think the Moa marketing is it.
On a more general note I would like to tackle the assertion or implication that this is some sort of personal vendetta that Phil has. There are many many people who share Phil’s view, and many who boycott Moa beers as a result. Which is of course a shame as Dave does a good job brewing some interesting and tasty beers, and is a good guy who we all would like to see kept brewing.
Gah, chrome ate my reply. But basically I don’t drink Moa because I disagree with their crap marketing.
I don’t see why they need to try to be another DB with their shitty marketing. There’s plenty of other good (even better! Moa beers aren’t even all that good) craft beer for me to drink. Not to mention they seem to be alienating women craft beer drinkers.
P.S. John I think you have a rosy view of the American scene. There is plenty of critisim over there and much of it unlike Phil’s is unfair and unwarranted.
A while ago Sam from Dogfish Head struck back at the bagging Dogfish Head was receiving. Unfortunitly the original forum isnt still up but his response is here:
For me, this is more of an issue of brand direction than anything else. I support any Kiwi business, built on quality product, competing against multinationals. That we can produce businesses like Moa is something to be celebrated, not derided. Ok, yes – some of their product isn’t to my taste, and arguably some of it isn’t what it used to be – but that’s again a matter of taste.
I understand what they are trying to do with the IPO prospectus. As a former craft brewer from the UK who moved into media & advertising, and now consults to NZ startups, I can view this from a number of angles.
The purpose of the prospectus is to get investors, period. Moa has determined that their core target market for investment is cashed-up professional males who want to be seen to own a bit of a successful brewery. Whether that turns out to be the best target remains to be seen. In IPOs like this, the vast majority of the $ investment comes from a small handful of investors. If they can attract those few people through this IPO, then their strategy has worked. If not, then the brand positioning issues come into play.
If you’re a professional investor looking at this dispassionately, it’s not a given that it’s a good investment. Yes, they’re carrying debt. That’s not unusual. Yes, they’re engaging expensive marketing people to help them promote themselves – maybe a few alarm bells here. But if their future brand direction looks like what is being portrayed in the prospectus, that’s an issue for me.
There’s only so many brand wankers around to buy the product – it’s a big risk setting out to alienate a big section of the potential market. Women don’t drink beer? Yes, maybe women don’t drink as much, but it’s dead wrong to assume all/most males will identify with this brand direction. We’re not all sexist twats, sorry Geoff. And you’re creative isn’t actually very good.
But in the end of the day, none of this is the real play anyway. What they’re really trying to do is get bought out by a big multinational – and this is the start of that play. Worked for 42 Below, trying again here. If they can make enough noise, then that makes it much more likely they’ll get noticed.
Problem is that the 42 Below brand positioning, while edgy, was quite clever. Moa’s is edgy, but sexist and dumb. If it works to get the investors, then I understand. But don’t screw the brand by keeping going long-term with this shit. You can be edgy AND smart – as BrewDog in Scotland has shown.
If you ask me, one of the absolutely-key details is that they were ‘oversubscribed’ before this IPO was released. And we know (from NBR stories, etc.) that the IPO document was revised several times.
So, before they sent the final version to the printers, they knew they had their $15M. Which means they could’ve chopped this document down to just the bare legal minimum and not alienated a single soul. But they didn’t. They took the chance, totally unnecessarily, to be these guys. It appears that’s just who they are. On the evidence we have — an attention-grabbing IPO document from a company who didn’t need any extra attention for the amount of investment they were looking for — this bigoted, exclusionary, boorish and mean and bullshit attitude is just how they do business.
And that’s just freakin’ sad. And worth calling out.
(Plus, you’re absolutely right: everyone needs to stop praising the creativity of Geoff Ross and his team. There aren’t fossils dating back far enough to represent just how dead that horse they keep flogging actually is any more.)
It’s an interesting point about the oversubscription, Phil… in that case, what it reads to me like is that this wasn’t ever an investment statement that they wanted to use to attract investors. It’s a full on advertisement into which they had to work an investment statement. I’m not sure if that changes how I feel about it….
Blimey – what a storm in non-imperial sized glass resceptacle!!!
Phil I am afraid you are coming accross as a rather well educated [possibly] and informed [debatable] bore.
Thanks for bringing Moa’s neo nazi rise to world domination through the advertising/sale of beer to my attention [who knew] and of course in this free country [which it was the last time I voted] you are entitled to your opinion.
Having taste buds, a brain and a healthy appreciation for the financial and emotional risks associated with following any dream I am going to continue drinking Moa Beer and I am going to take appropriate financial advice on the investment of my hard earned money in this standard capital raising exercise.
In fact I am going to raise a 568ml glass receptacle [filled with my most recent home brew] to a group of guys and one troll who realise that generally one mans opinion matters little and the inspirational and fiscal actions of a few are going to effect the lives of many. I am going to dream…………..
Jimminy, you look away for just 3 days, and look what happens!
Well done (almost) everyone for keeping this discussion broadly constructive!
Rory mentioned BrewDog which I think are a great example of what Moa might imagine themselves to be but also what they are not.
BrewDog are a company who have, like Moa, made hay in the sunlight of controversy. They’re big, they’re bold, they stick it to the man! But, unlike Moa, they’ve done it in a pretty inclusive fashion. People want to identify with BrewDog, they’re likable, fun and different. They have made fun of groups (maybe people?) but only when those groups have done things or made decisions that they think are worthy of making fun of… Like complaining about the inappropriateness of strong beers like Tokyo being available in 330ml bottles – and when they do, they make fun of them in the form of beer. Be it strong beer, or beer served in a stuffed animal, or the name of a beer or whatever.
So when Brewdog are being controversial its usually with an actual product, not with raw marketing. They aren’t just _saying_ they brew stupidly strong beer. They do! Moa on the other hand makes otherwise fine beers and then has a bunch of marketing that has little or nothing to do with the beer, or even beer in a conceptual sense.
When BrewDog wanted investors they invited people to join them being Punks – they had an attitude that people wanted to be part of which they’d already communicated by Doing Things.
Doing Things lends an air of honesty to marketing, but I really hope Moa’s marketing isn’t honest. If it is, they’re living their lives at the expense of those around them – and that pretty much sucks.
BrewDog = makes controversial craft beer, markets it (in the same spirit).
Moa = makes craft beer, and controversial marketing guff (in very different spirits)
Certainly agree: BrewDog != Moa…
I was thinking of BrewDog the whole way through reading the post and the comments here. Trying to pick holes in BrewDog tactics that paint them in as bad a light as Moa. While I sometimes don’t agree with BrewDog and they have sometimes enraged me… I’ve never felt actively disgusted by them. (Some of the German-bashing episodes did come close…)
BrewDog approached investors very differently. The beer did the talking – BrewDog offered a chance to “buy in” to the “craft beer revolution”. Beer lovers lapped it up – myself included! Even when I’ve disagreed with BrewDog’s marketing I’ve not regretted being an “Equity Punk”. I’m still mildly proud to have been in it from the start. (How terribly hipster!)
I don’t think the “makes controversial craft beer” side of BrewDog is quite as big a thing as you may think. I suspect this is a case of that being the sort of the the “big” marketing successes that has leaked over to NZ (by “success” I mean “picked up by mainstream media” and by “big” I mean “including foreign media”). They’re a company seeking growth though. So yes, marketing & media has come into it – and they’ve won some brand recognition through manufactured controversy. Perhaps this helped with things like getting their beer into supermarkets. Now days I meet more people who have discovered them via a bottle of Punk or 5AM found in Tesco/Sainsburys/etc than anything. I like to think the flashes of controversy are not a defining part of BrewDog’s image, they’re just some punctuation along the way. And you’re correct – generally when they’ve pushed people’s buttons they’ve done it with solid ground to stand on. Tokyo* is a damn fine drink and it’s no stronger than a good port.
Reflecting briefly on my visit to NZ last year I’d say their position in “craft beer” circles here is much closer to that of Epic than Moa. The scene here still respects them – I gathered back in Oct/Nov last year that respect for Moa was wearing thin.
Anyway, the core point is spot-on. BrewDog investors bought into the beer, entirely so in my experience thus-far meeting fellow EFPers. Certainly at the time of EFP I, marketing around EFP II was a little stronger I suppose – but it was all about enjoying GOOD BEER.
By comparison what are Moa offering? Who wants to be an “Equity Chauvinist”?
I expect others here are right… no doubt this will be a success. (Or already is based on the “oversubscribed” note previously.) I would HATE to ever be at a Moa investors AGM. Can you imagine it? (Again, I bet others would LOVE it – the sort of people who hire “booth babes” for IT conferences for example.)
I tried some Moa beers when I was in NZ, they were OK… but I found others were making far more compelling beers that spoke for themselves without the marketroid blah. But this isn’t about the beer. It certainly isn’t about or for those of us who love great beer. Marketing, brand, growth, buy-out. Some people think the end-game here is more important than not being an arsehole, I suspect they even think that being an arsehole is necessary to achieve success. Sadly the world if full of these people.
Brand is vital in craft brewing, it really is, no matter if one views one brand as wank the other as not, both are, undoubtedly brands. And a lot of what has been referred to above as “craft beer culture” is still, I feel, a perception of and interaction with brands.
But thinking of my own perception of the “culture” and “brand” (because my own insight is the only one I have after all), my relationship with craft beer brands is driven by one core factor: do I like what the brand tells me about the men and women behind the brand?
Be it the coloured trousers and enjoyable twitterings of one-half of Yeastie Boys, the “female point of difference” from Sprig & Fern, the Aro Valley hipsterism of Garage Project, the Scotish larikinism of Brew Dog, (the list goes on and on) I see the craft beer world of being full of brands behind which stand a bunch of people who, for a lack of a better phrase, I’d quite like to have a beer with.
(And one of the beautiful things about craft beer is that having a beer with the brewer is a very real possibility).
And, yes, to greater or lesser extent that opinion of mine has been created by marketing of one description or another. But is the outcome it has on this consumer.
Which was all a long-winded way of saying that the marketing – and now the IPO – of Moa has also made me get a sense of the men behind the brand (and, oh, they are certainly men).
And I really wouldn’t be keen to share a beer with them.
I think you’re correct, with a big but. And I’m not commenting on your posterior. My house is made of glass and I’m all out of stones! 😉
The but in question is that with craft beer, brand tends to be (in general) an afterthought. The beer comes first, born of (and here’s that overused but so-accurate word) passion. The brewers generally drive the business. In fact, a lot of the time, the business is only created to serve the passion for the product. The trappings of business – marketing, sales, stock control, distribution, supplyu chains etc. – are often seen as necessary evils. A means to an end of being able to continue doing what the brewer loves to do.
That’s not to say business and its associated trappings is in any way bad. How would it look for an evil capitalist such as myself to be putting forward THAT argument? 😉 No, just that with craft beer, the business usually serves the beer. What Moa seems to be demonstrating is that the beer now serves the business.
The first post-Ross move was a complete reshuffle of products and names. It was very confusing for many who had loved Moa Original and suddenly found ourselves drinking a fairly insipid lager with the same name and thinking “what the fuck just happened here”? That didn’t matter to Moa, because I as a craft beer drinker quickly got the message that I wasn’t really their target market anymore. Their target market (leaving aside the misogyny and homophobia which took a little while to show itself, and based on their export efforts and branding) now seemed to be middle class Americans who might want to visit Noo Zeeeeeland and thus would love to drink a “super premium” lager with a native bird on it. Is there anything at all wrong with that? No.
I’ve grumped elsewhere (and had a discussion via email with Dave) about my perception that quality has been a little iffy at times. Leaving aside the fact that I was far from alone in my experience, I’ve given Dave the benefit of the doubt and assumed I had some extremely poor luck with bottled and tap product. I certainly wish Moa all the best. I just think that they are the sort of business (now) which is all about brand with product a very distant second. That to me is not typical of craft brewers, and I don’t like what they are doing via that branding in the name of craft brewers and craft beer.
I’ll not be drinking any more Moa. I still wish them all the luck in the world, as I wish for any business or individual (especially individual) taking large risks to achive capital success. I’m simply not their target market, and I’ll be far happier once they stop trying to pretend that I and most of us here are.
“I like big buts…” Sir Mixalot
Ever since that comment popped up, I’ve had this bloody-marvellous cover version stuck in my head. So thanks for that.
Anyone for a pint?
sure, as long as it isn’t Moa.