UTS Library

Arnott's Biscuits - A Slice of the Action


Arnott's Biscuits LTD

PR Company: 

Arnott's Biscuits - Tim Tam Marketing Team

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2004 G 1



Executive Summary: 

In August 2003, Arnotts briefed its Corporate Communications team on the launch of Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice, scheduled for early 2004.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The Corporate Communications team identified the need to develop an issues management campaign to address four potential areas of risk:

  • Alcohol as an ingredient
  • Confusion over levels of alcohol present
  • Accessibility to children
  • Newsworthiness of the Tim Tam brand.

The goals of the issues management campaign were to:

    • Protect the reputation of Arnotts corporate brand
    • Enhance the reputation of the Tim Tam and Slice brands.

The objectives of the campaign were to:

    • Participate in any requests for interviews
    • Ensure at least 75% of media coverage received was either balanced or positive, containing a minimum of one key message
    • Ensure any public debate resulted in a minimum 10% increase in sales against F04 targets for Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice.

The issue generated approximately 163 pieces of coverage. Arnotts participated in all interviews, recorded 485 consumer contacts, and provided information to government representatives concerned about the products.

Sales of Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice in the launch week totalled more than $1 million.

Situation Analysis: 

Arnotts has been baking <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australias favourite biscuits for more than 139 years.  Its products can be found in more than 97% of Australian households and its corporate and product brand values are closely linked to quality and family.  <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

In August 2003, the Company briefed its Corporate Communications team on the launch of two new products scheduled to hit supermarket shelves in early 2004:

  •         Tim Tam Tia Maria
  •         Kahlua Slice.

The objectives of these products were to:

    • Create excitement or new news in the adult indulgence biscuit category
    • Increase awareness of the Tim Tam and Slice brands among target consumers
    • Drive sales for the Company.

The Corporate Communications team identified the need to develop an issues management campaign to address the following four potential areas of risk:

1.      Alcohol as an ingredient

  • Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice would be the first Arnotts products to contain alcohol-based flavours, and the first to carry a licensed, third-party logo on-pack

2.      Confusion over levels of alcohol present

  • The alcohol content of the biscuits as shown on-pack (particularly for Kahlua Slice) was numerically similar to the maximum drink driving BAC level of 0.05 (see packaging, Appendix A)

3.      Accessibility to children

  • The products would be available to purchase from supermarkets

4.      Newsworthiness of the Tim Tam brand

  • The residual newsworthiness of the Tim Tam brand in the broader communication context, given the legal action Arnotts took against Southern Sky Foods Limited and Paradise Foods between April and June 2003 over alleged trademark infringement of the Tim Tam brand.


As part of the development of the issues management campaign, the Corporate Communications team undertook three different streams of research:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


1.  Desk research

Utilising media monitoring and Internet services, the team researched past launches of products containing alcohol such as Alcopops and Moo Joos.

The team reviewed a variety of aspects including the:

  • Key messages used in communication materials
  • Tone of coverage received
  • Role of third-party opinion formers including spokespeople from drug and alcohol groups, government and the media
  • Outcomes.

2. Supermarket audit

Arnotts Corporate Communications team managed the completion of a comprehensive supermarket audit to identify:

  • All other liqueur or alcohol flavoured products available on shelf
  • The liqueur or alcohol content of those products
  • How long they had been available in supermarkets
  • Whether they carried the logo of the liqueur or alcohol brand on-pack.

The results of the audit can be found in Appendix A.

3. Technical calculations

A specialist from Arnotts Research and Development unit was engaged to assist in translating technical data into plain English, which the team could use to develop meaningful key messages.

The technical data focused on Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) how this was measured and how it could be used to provide context for consumers regarding the level of alcohol present in both products.

Target Policies: 

The following target publics were identified for the campaign: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Target public

Significance and/or relationship to Arnotts


Highly significant as they represented the most effective channel available to disseminate key messages quickly and broadly. Many of the journalists had established relationships with the Company as a result of the Tim Tam/Temptin legal action


Highly significant as holders of the purchasing power. With Arnotts products found in more than 97% of Australian households, consumers have a strong and emotional connection to the brand

Activist groups (eg. Australian Drug Foundation)

Highly significant as they represented the voice of social issues relating to drugs and alcohol

Government/regulators(eg Food Standards Australia New Zealand)

Highly significant as the enforcers of regulation governing the sale and marketing of products containing alcohol. Arnotts had an established relationship with FSANZ, and with government representatives at various Local, State and Federal levels


Significant as they represented a potential target for consumer backlash (eg. boycotting of Arnotts products), which could have resulted in Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice being proactively removed from shelves. Arnotts is in the top ten grocery brands in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australia and has built robust relationships with its key customers

Arnotts sales force

Significant as they represented the face of Arnotts in the trade, and the primary communication conduit to customers

Target public (cont)

Significance and/or relationship to Arnotts

Other Arnotts employees

Significant as their understanding of the issue, and its impact on the business, was crucial to ensuring they felt well-informed and up-to-date.

Communication Strategy: 

Using the information gathered during the research phase, the team developed a comprehensive issues management strategy and implementation plan to support the launch of Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The strategy was three-pronged:

  • Reactive versus proactive: while the Company would be prepared to respond to any debate in the public arena, it would not seek to proactively generate this via the distribution of a launch media release or advertising
  • Broadcast versus print: if debate occurred in the public arena, the Corporate Communications Team would prioritise liaison with broadcast media over print to ensure key messages were communicated swiftly and broadly
  • Fact versus emotion: alcohol consumption, particularly as a social issue among under 18s, is a highly emotive issue.  Any communication from Arnotts, therefore, would need to be fact-based and rational, to counteract emotion and to minimise the potential sensationalism of the issue.

Three campaign key messages were developed with an emphasis on maximising auditory recall, based on the prioritisation of broadcast media as the potential communication channel:

    1. Arnotts Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice are two new flavours within the Companys adult indulgence range.  This means they have been developed for adults specifically, female adults aged 20-45 years (see marketing material, Appendix A)
    2. Both products are 99.9% alcohol free.  A person would need to consume their body weight in biscuits every hour to even come close to reaching a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.05
    3. Arnotts conducts significant ongoing consumer research, which confirms that the target market for Tim Tam and Slice female adults aged 20-45 years prefer to eat the biscuits after 8pm, as an indulgent treat they can enjoy on their own.

These key messages were then used to form the basis of a suite of contingency communication tools (please see Appendix A) including a:


  •         Media statement
  •         Background briefing paper for government
  •         Consumer Contact Centre response to enquiries
  •         Sales force communication
  •         Other employee communication.

Peter West, General Manager Arnotts Biscuits, was appointed primary spokesperson and Toni Callaghan, Corporate Communications Manager, was appointed back-up spokesperson.

An internal campaign briefing and a media Q&A session was conducted prior to the launch of the products.



Tim Tam Tia Maria and Kahlua Slice were launched on national supermarket shelves on 2 February 2004. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

News of the launch, featuring criticism from the Australian Drug Founation, broke in the Herald-Sun on 4 February, triggering more than 40 requests for interviews from Australian and New Zealand media during the following 72 hour period.

The Company participated in all interviews, which generated approximately 163 separate pieces of coverage (131 broadcast/32 print, including all network television news, see Video, Appendix A, attached to front cover).

During the same period, Arnotts:

  • Recorded 485 inbound contacts from consumers
  • Provided information to more than seven government representatives who had publicly expressed concern about the products.

In the launch week, sales of Tim Tam Tia Maria totalled nearly $600,000 and sales of Kahlua Slice totalled more than $500,000, with total launch week sales of more than $1 million.


Analysis of the results confirmed the campaign met, and in some cases, exceeded its original goals and objectives, which focused on protecting and enhancing Arnotts corporate and product brands, and driving sales.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Of the 131 broadcast pieces of coverage generated, 99 (or 76%) were defined as either positive or balanced (46% contained a minimum one key message).

Of the 32 print pieces of coverage generated, 26 (or 81%) were defined as either positive or balanced.

Of the 485 consumer contacts recorded, nearly half were positive. To provide relevant context for this data, during the three month period during which Arnotts was taking legal action over the alleged trademark infringement of its Tim Tam brand, Arnotts recorded more than 573 consumer contacts and only 17 (2%) of these were positive.

Six out of the seven government representatives who had expressed concern about the products did not take up the Companys offer of providing additional information or meeting with Peter West, General Manager Arnotts Biscuits. 

On 5 February, the Hon Trish Worth MP announced a Federal Government review of the products would be undertaken.  During the following weeks, Arnotts participated in two teleconferences with advisers from the Department of Health and Ageing to provide additional information, and to confirm no advertising had been planned for either product in print or broadcast media. The Department deemed both products complied with all labelling and advertising laws and no further action was required.

The graph overleaf confirms 42% of all sales value for the two products was generated in the four week post-launch period: (graph available in hard copy in UTS Library CC).


While sales spiked during this period, year to date, sales of Kahlua Slice remain 175% above the original F04 target and sales of Tim Tam Tia Maria remain 141% above the original FO4 target for the same period (source: Holos ex-factory sales data 23/07/04).

And the value share of the total biscuit category held by the Tim Tam and Slice umbrella brands has increased significantly when compared to the same periods in 2003, as indicated in the table below:


Four weeks prior to launch


Launch to four weeks


Five to eight weeks



Value share 2004 (%)

Value share 2003 (%)

Value share 2004 (%)

Value share 2003 (%)

Value share 2004 (%)

Value share 2003 (%)

Total Arnotts Tim Tam







Total Arnotts Slice







*Source: ACNielsen  ScanTrack  - Page 1 of 1 - 27/07/2004

Importantly, the total Arnotts Biscuits business grew 7% in 2004 compared to 2003. This not only exceeded the Companys planned target, it outstripped growth of 3.9% for the total biscuit category in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australia.  According to an article in the 29 April 2004 edition of BRW by Simon Lloyd entitled Mother of invention:

Arnotts is another company that has shown that even in the crowded and mature market for biscuits, keeping ahead of the competition by innovation, authenticity and originality is vital... It has also revitalised its Tim Tam range (which had $60 million in revenue last year), and controversially, launched chocolate biscuits flavoured with alcohol.  Consumers have welcomed the innovation...