Marketing

“Overpriced, overrated and outrageous”: Adriano Zumbo embraces negative reviews as he launches new Melbourne store

Eloise Keating /

It’s the stuff of nightmares. Online reviews from customers who say they “honestly hate” your products or were “completely disappointed” by your customer service.

But celebrity chef and dessert entrepreneur Adriano Zumbo has chosen to embrace his negative reviews. Instead of shying away from the sometimes personal attacks, Zumbo has instead turned them into marketing material for a new store in Melbourne.

Signage for the new Zumbo kiosk, which will open in Melbourne’s Emporium shopping centre next week, has been plastered with customers’ reviews from Urbanspoon and Facebook.

“I honestly hate your macarons and all that other rubbish stuff you create. By the way get some hair while you’re at it,” says one Facebook review from April.

“Considering how he prances around like he invented all this stuff, it was a little underwhelming,” says another review from Urbanspoon.

The other reviews chosen are equally negative.

“Overpriced, overrated and outrageous,” says one. “Definitely overhyped. My local bakery makes better macarons,” says another.

“Talk about overrated. We waited approximately 30 minutes only to be completely disappointed by the unimaginative and unimpressive desserts at Zumbo’s. We won’t return and I advise you not to bother,” says another reviewer.

Speaking about his latest marketing efforts, Zumbo told Fairfax it’s important business owners don’t take themselves too seriously.

“It’s funny, you’ve got to be able to take the piss out of yourself,” he said. “It’s the shock factor and it creates interest.”

“There’s always a percentage of people who don’t like something, but we’re confident in what we do.”

Zumbo said negative feedback also makes him work harder.

“It pushes you harder, even though you laugh at some of it you push yourself more,” Zumbo said.

Janey Paton, director of marketing and public relations agency Belles and Whistles, told SmartCompany Zumbo is “creating hype around his new retail space in a brave way”.

“He is also asserting the brand personality, which is clearly about confidence,” Paton says.

But Paton says Zumbo is not just “embracing or owning” the negative feedback he receives, “he is using it to proactively create talkability and drive awareness of the new space”.

“The shock factor creates a level of intrigue and invites people to engage with the brand, to try it for themselves and make up their own mind,” Paton says.

“No doubt, Zumbo is hoping to see more messages of support that boost positive social media hype.”

“This looks like part of a bold, big bang communications strategy, which will keep consumers wondering what will come next.”

SmartCompany contacted Zumbo but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Eloise Keating

Eloise Keating is the editor of SmartCompany. Previously, Eloise was news editor at Books+Publishing, the trade press for the Australian book industry.

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