When Gold Bullion Limited created a way for investors to buy and sell gold bars on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) it sought FCRs help to launch the product.
It was the first time in the world that gold or any other commodity had been securitised so investors could trade it on a stock exchange. Designed for both retail and institutional investors, it also opened the opportunity for superannuation funds to invest in gold for the first time.
Gold Bullion had the backing of the World Gold Council, but as a start-up company had a limited budget to market its complex product. Investors were offered stapled securities that, in effect, securitised gold bullion. Listed on the ASX on 25 March 2003 with the company code GOLD*, each security gave investors ownership of a tenth of an ounce of gold, held on their behalf in HSBC Banks
London gold vault. Buying a GOLD security on the ASX was as good as gold. FCR structured a communication program that achieved extraordinary media coverage. This was a major contributor to building demand for GOLD and achieving sales of $55 million equivalent to three tonnes of gold in the first three months.
* Throughout this document, GOLD in capitals signifies Gold Bullions securities and gold in lower case signifies the commodity.
This was the first time in the world a commodity was securitised and traded on a stock exchange. It was initiated in a country where few investors trade directly in commodities, including gold. So the main communication challenges were to educate investors about:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- the benefits of including gold bullion in their portfolio, and
- the advantages of holding GOLD securities.
Other challenges were:
- the gold market had been in a 20 year down-cycle, exacerbated by central banks selling their gold reserves, and commodity writers were negative toward the metal,
- the concept of a stapled security representing a securitised commodity was new to investors,
- the company was unknown,
- superannuation funds, the largest potential investors, have trust deeds that prevent them from trading in commodities, so gold was off their radar,
- media might view the event as a financial product launch, to which it tends to give limited coverage, and being a start-up company, Gold Bullion had limited capital for marketing.
FCR believed it could overcome these challenges and generate increasing demand in the opening months of listing by concentrating on media relations and on face-to-face communication with key investment influencers in Australia and internationally.
We had these aspects in our favour:
- being the first investment of its kind in the world added to GOLDs potential newsworthiness,
- respected groups and individuals, both Australian and international, are associated with the venture including the World Gold Council and two highly respected experts in superannuation,
- the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US invasion of Iraq re-ignited interest in gold as a safe-haven store of value.
With most IPOs, a fixed number of shares are issued and, once listed, supply and demand sets the price. In contrast, the price of each GOLD security mirrors the movements of the world gold price and Gold Bullion issues more securities as demand increases. So, instead of focusing on a short marketing period between prospectus lodgement with ASIC and offer closure, media coverage for
GOLD had to continue beyond the ASX listing.
The launch of Gold Bullion and its GOLD securities presented many unusual communication challenges that are seldom combined in launching an IPO.
Desk-based research to identify evidence to support investment in gold; determine the messages that GOLD should project, and define the audiences to be targeted. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- media and analyst coverage of gold,
- World Gold Council research papers,
- the commissioned report Gold bullion and superannuation investment policies by Dr David Knox of PwC Actuarial, and
- major investment conference information.
FCR identified key audiences as:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Institutional investors and their influencers fund managers, superannuation fund trustees, asset consultants, stockbroking analysts,
Retail investors and their influencers high net worth individuals, stockbroking client advisers, financial advisers,
The media as a channel concentrating on business, investment and resources writers for the ASX listing; broadening to personal investment and superannuation writers in ensuing months.
Communication strategy and implementation<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
To achieve the companys objective of building demand, our communication strategy was to:
- use media coverage to explain GOLD to target audiences, educate them about the advantages of including gold in a portfolio, and continue to remind them of the investment opportunity,
- concentrate on the ASX listing as a world first to secure initial media coverage,
- educate journalists in how GOLD investment works, so they understood the product and referred to it when writing about gold,
- encourage journalists to write about the reasons investors should include gold in a balanced investment portfolio,
- gain sustained coverage by approaching personal investment and superannuation journalists after the launch,
- involve superannuation and actuarial specialists to communicate with the superannuation and funds management industry.
Our activities included:
- marketing and communication advice in preparing key messages and translating these into marketing material,
- organising a media briefing in the ASX boardroom to launch Gold Bullion and presentations to financial analysts/advisers, and
- media relations during the launch and beyond, sustaining coverage by expanding our focus from finance journalists to columnists, personal investment writers and superannuation writers.
Preparation of key messages for media and marketing material FCR identified three key messages and factual information to support them.
Reduces portfolio volatility reports by WGC, PwC; positive long-term returns historical comparison of gold against other asset classes; liquid form of investment; if funds had included gold in the past three years, Australians superannuation would be worth more.
High profile directors from gold and investment industries; involvement of World Gold Council; physical ownership of gold bars; ring-fence security arrangements; worlds largest gold custodian bank holds gold; fully insured; assets accessible, with ability to convert to physical gold on demand.
Cost-effective investment; low management fees, equivalent to managed funds; ease of trading; gold dealer relationship, currency transfer, storage and insurance unnecessary.
We converted these messages into short, memorable phrases for the launch presentation and marketing materials, where they were backed by factual information.
Rather than relying solely on the prospectus, we assisted in producing a marketing brochure
(Appendix A) which highlighted the key advantages of the product. This explained why invest in gold (the commodity); and why invest in GOLD (the product).
Launch event for media and ASX listing
Our challenge was to attract media to a financial product launch. We chose the day before ASX listing as the day it would have the best news value and emphasised that it was a world first by arranging the event in the ASX boardroom and involving its chief operating officer to explain the significance of the listing not normal practice for company floats.
Graham Tuckwell, chairman of Gold Bullion, explained the product and two experts highly regarded by the superannuation industry also gave presentations on the significance of GOLD to superannuation funds. These were Gold Bullion director, Dr Vince FitzGerald (chairman of the Allen Consulting Group and former Australian government adviser on superannuation) and consultant, Dr David Knox (PricewaterhouseCoopers Actuarial).
FCR branded the ASX boardroom in gold:
- hiring gold bars which were assembled in a pyramid to provide a photo opportunity,
- producing a Gold Bullion banner as a backdrop, preparing branded media packs containing the news release, marketing document and PwC report, and
- offering gold foil wrapped chocolates.
During the briefing, a media release was distributed to Australian and international media. FCR liaised with interstate and international media and scheduled telephone interviews with print and radio media during the day.
Media attending the briefing were:
- wires AAP, Reuters, Bloomberg, Dow Jones;
- daily press Sydney Morning Herald, Daily Telegraph;
- finance industry press Insto magazine;
- mining press Australian Mining magazine;
- broadcast Sky News, ABC Business Breakfast and ABC radio news.
Two key media did not arrive: The Australian and Australian Financial Review. We arranged an interview and photo session later that day with The Australian and a phone interview with the AFR.
Both resulted in major articles (Appendix A - montage of launch coverage).
We contacted journalists in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />London and Singapore, as well as the Wall Street Journal representative in Sydney, to generate international coverage.
Marketing to financial analysts
To educate influencers, FCR organised briefings for stockbrokers in Sydney and Melbourne. As the listing occurred in the middle of the half-yearly results season, demands on analysts and client advisers during the day were high, so we organised breakfast events.
As well as developing a comprehensive invitation list and following up invitations, we booked, organised, themed and managed the events, held at centrally-located city venues. (see Results section for attendance)
Extension of communication activities
In the next stage of the program, FCR sought to capitalise on the interest generated by the launch and broaden awareness of GOLD among institutional investors (superannuation and other investment funds) and retail investors. We did this in three ways:
a. Media updates on trading with new angles
To maintain awareness of GOLD, regular announcements were made to the ASX and media, highlighting new angles:
First days trading result
Strong international demand for GOLD in first six weeks of trading; international investors buy $25 million of $33 million securities sold
Investment in GOLD accelerates 50% in a month; Australians more active than international investors 7 July More than 3 tonnes of gold sold within three months.
(Appendix A news releases)
b. Development of alternative media angles
Most of our activity, however, centred on individual approaches to journalists to interest them in specific angles.
- While international institutions had shown interest in GOLD initially, Australian institutional investors had lagged behind. FCR assisted Gold Bullion to increase Australian demand by securing coverage in relevant publications: Investor Weekly, Super Review, Superfunds and Money Management. We interested Super Review in an article by Vince FitzGerald and wrote a draft for him to complete. This gained enough reader interest for the editor to request a further article. (Refer Appendix A All that glitters (sic) article by Dr FitzGerald.)
- Also targeting superannuation funds (including DIY funds), FCR developed a release to coincide with end-of-year superannuation returns. The release Gold would have made your super sparkle (10 July 2003) targeted coverage in investment media including the AFRs Smart Investor section. (Appendix A Daily Telegraph and AFR articles in July).
c. Assistance with conference activities
FCR assisted Gold Bullion to identify speaking and exhibition opportunities at Australian conferences attended by institutional investors and superannuation trustees. We themed an exhibition stand, prepared marketing collateral, and approached conference organisers. As a result, Gold Bullion will be involved with IFSAs annual conference in September.
In the week of the launch (28 March), there were 22 print media articles, two television interviews, five radio mentions 10 wire reports and one web report on Gold Bullion and GOLD. (See Appendix A)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Since then, coverage has continued, with a total of 69 reports to 23 July. (See Appendix A)
41 stockbroking analysts and client advisers attended the breakfast presentations and a further 19 invitees requested information packs.
FCRs strategic advice and communications activities have achieved Gold Bullions objective of creating and building demand for its GOLD securities. Sales have increased each month and at the end of June totalled $55 million equivalent to three tonnes of gold. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
A letter from Gold Bullions chairman is in Appendix A.