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ITNTW: Financial Despair or A Blessing In Disguise?


It seems as though voluntary administration is on the rise for businesses within Australia. Most recently, we have seen fashion retailer, Alice McCall enter liquidation, as well as dessert manufacturer Sara Lee appointing aid for their financial strife. Unsurprisingly, rising costs have been named the fuel for the fire in these instances.  


There does seem to be a saving grace, however, for some of these companies. The Melbourne Rebels, a super rugby union team, called upon advisers only weeks before the competition was set to kick off. With over $10million of debt banked up, Rugby Australia has stepped in to alleviate the teams financial disadvantage to ensure they make it onto the field this season. 


On the morning of January 30, the good news was announced that dessert company Sara Lee had been saved. Sara Lee has now been purchased by the same family that saved Australia’s beloved candy manufacturer Darrell Lea when they announced their administration. 


With all of these brands coming out with news indicating their liquidation, it definitely boosts their brand awareness. Numerous media outlets pick up the angle of a long-forgotten brand collapsing. Then 6 months later those same outlets usually report on these beloved companies being purchased by investors. 


Negatively or positively, any PR is good PR right? And for many of these brands, their collapse gauged them wider audiences than they would normally be able to acquire. Many people that were part of this audience were reconnected with brands they may have forgotten about. 


Therefore, when these brands relaunch, not only is the audience already aware of them, but they also already feel a sense of connection to the brand. 


Take Sara Lee for example. Many news outlets reported on their liquidation from a nostalgic tone, using headlines such as “Aussie dessert icon” and “Beloved Australian brand”, and when it came to their purchase “remains proudly Australian” was in the mix. 


So has this been the recipe to bake the perfect PR stunt all along? 


I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Aussie consumers are willing to keep this brand afloat in the long run. 


Away from the food industry, following a similar path, the Melbourne Rebels are also hoping to rewrite their narrative. 


After trying to tackle millions of dollars worth of debt over the past decade, rugby fans haven’t been able to see a bright future for the club. Now however, after a partnership with Imperium Sports Management, they have been able to rebrand, promoting an elite sporting environment with high performance pathways, encouraging new fans and sponsorships to join them in their new chapter. This outcome arguably wouldn’t have been able to be achieved without a complete ownership takeover. 


So is financial despair really a blessing in disguise? 


It seems that when brands have had their image so badly tarnished, perhaps voluntary administration is one way they can ensure media attention is achieved and that public perception will begin to shift.  


Written by Clare Fitzgerald & Victoria Guest – InsideOut PR & #AsSeenOn

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