Following on from a story in the last issue of ARN, Harvey Norman may have unearthed a new distribution channel in the form of Australia's annual Royal Exhibitions. Its showbag promotion at this year's Royal Queensland Exhibition - the first by a computer industry player - may be expanded to Sydney and Melbourne next year.
According to proprietor Nick Osborne, Harvey Norman's Windsor computer superstore in Brisbane reached a new audience with the 15,000 showbags it sold for $15 each. He says the superstore plans to double its showbag count to 30,000 for next year's Queensland show. In addition, Harvey Norman may also launch similar efforts at Sydney's Royal Easter Show and the Royal Melbourne Show, he said.
The only cloud on the promotion was a claim by a handful of showgoers that a diskette in the bag contained a virus. Harvey Norman technicians went through a sampling of 30 to 40 bags using Vet, McAfee and Leprechaun and found nothing to support the claims, said Windsor store manager Blaine Callard.
"We only had two or three calls and we'd have been flooded with thousands of calls if we'd really had a virus. We believe the virus was already on the user's machine and jumped onto the show bag diskette when it was booted up. The reality is that a lot of people have viruses on their computers but they don't [know it]. So, when you start giving out anti-virus programs that find them, it gets their backs up," he said.
To prevent novice users from jumping to the wrong conclusion next year, Harvey Norman will either write protect any diskettes or stick entirely to CD-ROMs in its showbags, Osborne said.