AWGA launches Merino wool consumer campaign in US and UK

Terry Sim May 3, 2021

AUSTRALIAN wool growers have launched an international online and print media business to consumer awareness campaign for Merino wool, aiming specifically at American and United Kingdom retail customers.

Australian Wool Growers Association director Chick Olsson said the campaign will involve billboard, magazine and online advertisements with QR code or online links to the sustainability platform of The Woolmark Company, Australian Wool Innovation’s marketing arm.

“We are going ahead with a business to consumer campaign.

“We are spending about $20,000 ourselves,” Mr Olsson said.

“It just says to AWI, this is where we think we should go, we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

Mr Olsson said the campaign material was launched internationally online by a professional publicity company FTI on the weekend.

“We are going to every month change the images to a great wool-growing family and we are linking through to the Woolmark sustainability platform, which we think is pretty good actually.”

Mr Olsson said AWI’s levy-funded marketing campaigns have had a business-to-business focus, but it was now time to broaden this to international consumers.

AWGA signals readiness to take on PETA

Mr Olsson believes that AWI has been afraid to do a consumer campaign on wool because of the potential backlash, and especially in the United States of America where the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has been active with anti-wool campaigns and demonstrations.

However, Mr Olsson said AWGA believes that if Woolmark is connected with consumer campaigns in the US that are attacked by animal rights groups, the AR bodies would be liable for prosecution if the Woolmark brand is damaged.

“Because the Woolmark brand is registered in the United States.

”So God help the animal rights groups if they attack us, because we can sue them.”

Referencing the Australian Federal Court action by AWI against PETA over mulesing, in the late 2000s, Mr Olsson said AR rights groups acting against Woolmark-linked campaigns could be liable for “massive” damage in the US.

“PETA and those groups will have to really weigh up if they want to attack Australian wool.

“We think a brand should be protected and if you are going to do this properly we’ve got to talk to consumers again about sustainability,” he said.

“That’s why we support WoolProducers Australia on the Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework; it’s the right direction, and we are going to go direct to consumers.

“It’s time to start talking to consumers again without fear or favour, but being clever about it too,” he said.

“Woolmark has got some really good stuff in there.”

Mr Olsson said the campaign would run for 12 months. AWI was not asked to co-fund the campaign.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Chick Olsson, May 7, 2021

    I will say it again, with respect those excellent people who have done the hard yards breeding a magical plain-bodied sheep. Anyone who thinks the world wants to buy wool via a surgical description will ultimately fail in their approach. Wool has many amazing attributes besides talking about flies. Consumers in the US and EU are looking for planet-friendly fibres and don’t care a jot about fly treatments… they really don’t.

    • Jim Gordon, May 7, 2021

      Chick, I agree with your comments on those who have gone down the genetic path to make it easier for the trade to sell their wool. I also agree with your comments on breech modifications, that will bring certain parts of the market to a standstill. I will take your word that the US and EU don’t give a fiddler’s on the chemicals in wool. I’m not sure you are right.
      However, the people who do care, are the growers. If growers are treating their fly-blown sheep, there is no worse job on the farm and it could easily drive people out of the industry. This is why it is so important to breed a sheep that doesn’t need the breech modified, and that same sheep won’t have the wrinkle over the shoulder, hence reducing the body strike. I am sorry to keep banging on about this, but the genetic solution is so critical because the chemicals we use to treat and prevent fly-blown sheep are running out of steam, at a great rate of knots.
      I think if one did a survey, having a fly-proof flock would be right up there as one of the most desirable traits one could have in their sheep, and it is very possible.

  2. Doug Wright, May 6, 2021

    Marketing 101: give the consumer what they want and give it better than the opposition. It’s pretty simple. The American market wants wool from unmulesed sheep. I would hope that this campaign is not a wasted opportunity. By using the genetic solution, sheep can be bred so that they do not need to be mulesed. I see a campaign like this would be a great chance to inform the world that the modern Merino is being bred and producing quality, non-mulesed wool.

  3. Jim Gordon, May 4, 2021

    Chick, I hate to be the one to break the news to you: America is a big market and is ready to go; however, they only want non-mulesed and 100 percent comfort. I suspect Europe is the same.
    Why are you wanting to tread on the tail of the dragon? If you fire up PETA like last time, you won’t win, in that you will dig up the mulesing issue all over again. I don’t know how deep your pockets are, but I suspect they aren’t deep enough.
    While ever you have the elephant in the room — mulesing — it will be extremely difficult to sell wool into America and Europe, unless you are going to avoid the truth with as you put it, with “clever marketing”.
    When you say that “PETA and those groups will really have to weigh up if they want to attack Australian wool”, please add in the word ‘mulesed’ — “Australian mulesed wool”. They haven’t got a problem with non-mulesed wool.
    And AWEX is a problem because they won’t separate the wool types on the National Wool Declaration. Everything is lumped in together as Australian wool. The non-breech modified wools are full steam ahead. America and Europe have to be able to buy what they want.

  4. Marianne Mclean-Atkins, May 4, 2021

    Dear Mr. Olsson,
    I admire the proactive business-to-consumer drive towards the US especially; however, if the folks on the inside can’t agree on the way Aussie wool should be marketed, then how are the people buying it? Transparency is your key to consumers’ trust. You will get no argument from me that people should be wearing more wool and that your industry deserves to be valued as more than just a commodity, but more importantly you need to get across to consumers what Australian wool stands for. There cannot be grey areas as this is exactly what animal rights campaigns will go for. There is a real opportunity at the moment for wool to shine, in all its glory of sizes, qualities, and colours, but it cannot shine when the waters are muddy.
    Marianne Mclean-Atkins

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -