Indie ice creamery declares Holy (Moly) War on Fonterra—UPDATED

A fat, shiny bull mounting a helpless cow: this is war launched billboard-style by Holy Moly ice cream, which claims dairy giant Fonterra is screwing over small businesses with what it believes is anti-competitive behaviour. 

Holy Moly has teamed up with ad agency Rascals to launch a campaign poised to “fight a good fight in the freezers and the supermarkets”, kicking off with a billboard installed last night on Victoria street.

“I guess it’s really just raising awareness about what said big giants are doing to small businesses in New Zealand,” says Holy Moly director James Oliver.

Oliver claims big business is stifling the marketplace with a constant flow of new products introduced into the market after the small producers have launched their own.

“Too frequently, the large corporations are coming in and jumping on small entrepreneurial upstarts, and we’re just saying, enough’s enough.” Or, as it said on Facebook: [“The war] is fought in the freezers at the moment, a wave of blue tubs are trying to take our position. We will hold fast and advance again shortly. Watch this space!”

This comes just months after Holy Moly voiced fears Fonterra is copying its donut-flavoured ice cream to add to Fonterra-owned company Tip Top’s Crammed range, a range Holy Moly says is in direct competition. Oliver told NBR Fonterra contacted its company about the ice cream earlier this year, and not long after, someone used a Fonterra credit card to buy an entire Ponsonby outlet out of Holy Moly ice cream. He also claims Tip Top’s range of ice blocks, marketed as The Ice Bar Co, was launched to smother Kiwi start-up Nice Blocks (see below for Fonterra’s response). 

“Nice Blocks was really getting a foothold in the marketplace and all of a sudden, here comes the competitor. You can’t compete with the scale, distribution or the market powers in the supermarket where they can pretty much dictate what’s held in the freezers. They flood the market. We just want to raise awareness and let the public know that we believe it’s anti-competitive behaviour. What we’re seeing is a sequence where it’s happening to multiple companies and in our mind it must be current policy to try and jump on new products as they come out to make sure they don’t get a foothold in the marketplace in New Zealand.” 

Oliver says there’s nothing the company can do about it as far as commercial law goes, hence this quintessential challenger brand campaign, which will continue until he feels they’ve got the message across to the public. 

“In the end quality will rule and New Zealand ice cream eaters will have to decide which product is the best.”

UPDATE: Brett Charlton, managing director of Tip Top, says it operates in the same competitive environment as everybody else.

That competition is good for consumers and it’s good for us. And let’s be clear, we don’t copy, we lead. Tip Top has been innovating for 76 years. It’s in our DNA. We’re proud of this legacy and our innovations like Jelly Tip, Eskimo Pie and Memphis Meltdown. These are world firsts and underpin the culture of innovation we have. What we’ve done is what we have been doing for generations: creating innovative, exciting ice creams and ice blocks that Kiwis love.”

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