Last Tuesday, Channel Nine’s current affairs show ‘A Current Affair’ aired a story about the Tim Tam.
It said that Australian shops were selling cheaper and poorer quality Tim Tams manufactured in Indonesia. The story went on to say that the practice of parallel importing was the main cause of this problem.
Those who know me will know that I have the opinion that the current affair shows (Today Tonight, and ACA) run stories whose purpose is to stir up some old controversy. Also worth noting is that both shows have had legal troubles in the last few years. (ACA’s most recent problem was covered by Media Watch last week)
Parallel imports aren’t new in Australia. In 2006, the ACCC handed down a notice to Aldi supermarkets to stop importing cheaper Nescafé instant coffee and selling it alongside the local product, Blend 43. The ACA story also mentions of Chupa Chups produced in Vietnam and sold in Australia. Lots of companies like to differentiate their product offerings in each region for profit or market reasons. Now, this was the only part of the story that was worthy of broadcast.
The other elements of the story are worth chastising. First, ACA attempts to demonstrate the inferiority of the Indonesian Tim Tam by weighing the biscuit in a ‘lab’. The ‘lab’ is a dimly lit studio with a fire extinguisher, and shows a ‘scientist’ with a what looks like a pair of black swimming goggles on her head and a set of kitchen scales. It raises the question, “Does ACA have to go to great lengths to get people to believe their reporting?” On the same note, the reporter doesn’t really ‘report’. Instead he confronts certain parties with allegations of unethical activities and biases the story to reveal only the negative effects of parallel importing.
Apparently ACA have the view that most of their audience aren’t particularly smart. Therefore they say that the only way to tell the difference between Australian and Indonesian Tim Tams is to open the packet itself, thus discouraging people to buy Tim Tams. If you had a look at the packaging, you’d be suspicious of the origin of the Tim Tam would you? ACA even had a shot of the two packets together!
Also, let’s face it. Have you noticed that tourists/visitors to Australia always carry a few packets of Tim Tams back home? I would think that most people believe the saying, “the original is the best”.