The Association Of Community Retailers: A Smoking Gun

Cigarettes - I hate cigarettes, but it's so good. :) by jphilipg.

[UPDATE: Keith comes through with the goods again!]

It turns out I’m not the only one interested in this grassroots collective of mum-and-dad-tobacconists, with several people messaging and calling me with little tidbits of information. I also emailed the ACR twice to ask them directly, with no reply (despite their employees putting out a third press release today). But I just found out some very very interesting things, courtesy of Keith “Student Media Mafia” Ng.

Keith googled the PO Box listed on the Association of Community Retailers’ website and got back a bunch of articles about one Omeka Communications Ltd, who are still a registered company (although their website shut up shop in 2008).

According to the Companies Register, it just so happens that between 01 May – 16 July 2006 Omeka Communications was working out of the exact same offices ACR is using today.

It also just so happens that Omeka Communications’ director, Glenn Inwood, is now director of GlobalPR Limited – who own and operate SpinItWide, the anonymizing media distribution database that the Association’s press releases have all been coming from.

So we have press releases sent via Glenn Inwood’s new company, with the people writing them working out of Glenn Inwood’s old offices and using Glenn Inwood’s old post office box. But despite explicitly listing the Association’s two part-time staff by name, there’s no mention of Glenn anywhere on their website. Hmm.

And who is Glenn Inwood?

He is an award-winning public relations practitioner with 14 years experience in daily journalism and public relations, including both the public and private sectors.

Affiliating to Ngati Kahungunu and Tuhoe iwi, Glenn has written and edited for newspapers that include the Christchurch Star, The Press in Christchurch and the Evening Post in Wellington, and produced Radio New Zealand’s flagship programme Morning Report.

He has experience in the Government sector having worked in the Beehive as a Press Secretary for a Minister of the Crown.

Glenn’s communications strategies and work earned him the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand Supreme Award in 2000 for “Stop The Wall”, a campaign on behalf of Waterfront Watch, Wellington. (Winner of PRINZ Crisis Communications Award and PRINZ Supreme Award 2000)

Glenn Inwood is also the friendly public face of the Japanese Government’s Institute Of Cetacean Research, and that kind of talent doesn’t come cheap.

Oh yeah, and between 2004 – 2005 Glenn Inwood’s company Omeka Communications worked for Imperial Tobacco New Zealand of Wellington. [update: Keith notes Glenn Inwood’s new operation, SpinItWide, was putting out press releases for Imperial Tobacco as well as the Association of Community Retailers as recently as last week.]

Now let’s be clear: the Association of Community Retailers claims 173 legitimate small business owners as members, and those people have every right to fund a lobby group to advance their interests. The issue is that eight-and-a-half thousand dollars in membership levies does not go a very long way in public relations – especially not if major players like Glenn Inwood are involved. And if Imperial Tobacco is helping foot the bill, they need to publicly disclose that.

Let’s wait and see.

3 Comments on “The Association Of Community Retailers: A Smoking Gun”

  1. […] far as I am aware, the Association does not get any funding from Imperial Tobacco. Glenn might with his hats; he might get paid by Imperial Tobacco, but that’s his business” – […]

    • Kiwifrank says:

      “he might get paid by Imperial Tobacco, but that’s his business”


      And what about disclosing that little fact to the public? You might be comfortable with dishonest lobbying, but I suspect most New Zealanders would not.

  2. […] NZ Association of Convenience Stores (another pro-tobacco lobby group helmed by Glenn Inwood) put out a press release this morning claiming that 60% of retailers opposed a display ban on […]

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