What the cold, cold heart of Coles reveals

The man who directs the face and voice of Coles must have become a little overconfident. In a breathtaking display of arrogance, Coles’ general manager of corporate affairs, Robert Hadler, addressed an audience of spin doctors with this presentation: http://www.documentcloud.org/documents/800088-reputation-coles.html#document/p5

Plenty of people have discussed why this presentation was in such bad taste. Callous, even.

But the part that really caught my attention was the role of our co-op, Murray Goulburn, in Hadler’s “case study”. The gloating Hadler describes the deal with Murray Goulburn as “The game changer”.

Hadler’s right about this but not in the way he means, I suspect. The Hadler case study goes to show just one thing: no matter how Coles tried to spin $1 milk, Australians knew it stank and none of their ads, infographics or appearances by Curtis Stone could fix it. Until, finally, Coles actually did something to address the damage caused by the milk war: an unprecedented 10-year deal that was too good for the co-op to refuse.

Now that’s not a case study in spin, Mr Hadler, that’s a case study in people power.

PS: If you would like to keep up the pressure for Coles to do the right thing, add your voice to this petition by Queensland ag teacher, Lisa Claessen, who was compelled act after her students became casualties of the ColesWorths milk war.

8 thoughts on “What the cold, cold heart of Coles reveals

  1. Sorry Marian, this time I have to disagree.
    The deal with MG is pure spin. Sure it was a reaction to complaints but the reality is MG is now a puppet of Coles. Not quite a wholly-owned subsidiary but not far off it and the executives at MG can now not say or do anything to offend their generous ‘masters’.

    The Coop deal, from Cole’s perspective, is nothing more than a few shiny baubles, thrown to the noisy natives to calm things down. That’s the beauty of it. They made you believe that you won, but you didn’t. $1 milk still selling like hotcakes, the largest Coop in Australia silenced and very little heat left in the argument, I’d say the spin doctors have done their job…if only the jerk from Coles had kept his mouth shut…


    • Hi Ian,

      Great to have your perspective on this. To put the Coles deal in perspective, it’s 200 million litres a year out of MG’s 2.8 billion, so only about 7 per cent of its volume. To call Coles generous masters based on such a small percentage of sales is a bit unfair, I reckon.

      You might also recall that MG was very quiet about the $1 milk right from the start, so I don’t think that’s changed since the deal.

      Like you, a lot of people (me included) are still very wary of Coles and I think Mr Hadler’s presentation and the support CEO McLeod has shown for the document since its airing is very revealing. Coles is not at all warm and cuddly, that’s for sure!


  2. Pingback: The big decision Coles and Murray Goulburn vs Parmalat and Woolworths | Clover Hill Dairies Diary

  3. Thanks for the slideshow link Marian, It was worse than I thought. Congratulations Coles, you have strengthened my resolve to not only not buy your discounted milk, but continue my boycott of the whole store. It’s been 2 years so far! I am sitting on the fence waiting to see how the deal with NORCO pans out.


  4. H Marian.
    The bit i find confounding is that Coles is owned by Wesfarmers, which started life as a West Australian farmers co-op. Oh such a long way from their roots. But its all about profit these days. Coles etc. don’t care about the suppliers and customers, Plenty more of them

    And if the spin doctors are so good how did that presentation get onto a public site? Seem so arrogant they no longer about either customers or suppliers. I notice that all the photos with Curtis don’t seem to feature a single dairy producer.

    Keep up the good work!!


  5. For the record: Even after leaving the country and living in the city for 4 years now, we NEVER shop at Coles or Woolies etc. We only ever shop at the Farmer’s markets on the weekends. I know I’m doing my bit here 🙂



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