New Energy Watch owner Danny Wallis used his own money to buy a $1.4 million property on reality TV show The Block last night despite wearing a T-shirt to promote his company, a spokesman says.
Mr Wallis, the IT entrepreneur who headed a consortium that bought Energy Watch when it went into administration this year, promoted his latest venture by appearing on Channel Nine’s popular reality program and bidding for one of the properties while he and three others wore T-shirts with a new Energy Watch logo.
Mr Wallis’ tactic of making bids of unusual amounts also attracted plenty of attention, although his marketing ploy might have backfired, judging by a Twitter backlash.
Energy Watch went into administration on May 18 with debts of $8.6 million — including $886,000 in employee entitlements, $1.1 million to a secured creditor and $6.5 million to unsecured creditors, including the tax office. It is now in liquidation.
In April three Melbourne sporting teams terminated their sponsorship arrangements with the company after Energy Watch founder Ben Polis was found to have published racist and sexist posts on Facebook. Mr Polis resigned as a director and chief executive when the scandal broke.
Mr Wallis headed a private consortium that took over Energy Watch. The consortium re-named the company Energy Watch International.
During the finale of The Block, Mr Wallis and his companions in T-shirts were prominent during the auctions of the four properties.
Mr Wallis lodged a series of erratic bids during the last auction and successfully bought the property for $1,400,001.01. Earlier in the auction one of the program’s contestants said of Mr Wallis: “He loves the camera, that bloke.”
Comment is being sought from Mr Wallis.
A spokesman for the company confirmed Mr Wallis bought the property with private funds, even though he was wearing a T-shirt with his company’s name and logo at the time he was bidding.
Channel Nine spokesman Terry Stuart said Mr Wallis was “welcomed” into the auction as a registered bidder, and that the network was “thrilled” he bought the property.
Mr Stuart said Mr Wallis was entitled to wear what he liked and that any suggestion there was a sponsorship arrangement between Energy Watch and Channel Nine was “ludicrous”.
“The last thing we are going to do is enforce dress regulations for an auction on The Block,” he said.
Mr Wallis’ marketing tactics received their share of criticism on social media.
Former basketball star Chris Anstey tweeted: “The chances of anyone in Australia using Energy Watch from this day forward are ZERO…. and 91 cents”.
Model Jennifer Hawkins sent the company a “boo”, while another tweeter described Mr Wallis as “tool of the week”.
Hawthorn AFL player Jordan Lewis tweeted: “I have always wondered why my Energy bills are so sporadic, that bloke on #theblock has just confirmed why #chump”.
One of Mr Wallis’ companies, DWS Advanced Business Solutions, used to be a Hawthorn sponsor.
Lewis’ Hawthorn teammate, Josh Gibson, defended Mr Wallis’ auction tactics, and tweeted: “Big congrats to my good mate Danny, aka ‘Mr Energy Watch’ on the purchase of his new house from the #block. Put on a show as usual! Haha”.
Channel Ten identity Ryan Fitzgerald noted the Energy Watch T-shirts were worn the same day the carbon tax came into effect.
Last week Justice Shane Marshall in the Federal Court in Melbourne expressed concern that Energy Watch was advertising again when the company had been put into liquidation.
In a hearing between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and Energy Watch (in liquidation) and Mr Polis, Justice Marshall said it would be “extremely disappointing” if there was a phoenix situation going on and urged the ACCC to investigate the new company.
It would turn the legal system into a “laughing stock” if this were the case, he said.
The ACCC is seeking fines of $100,000 against Mr Polis and more than $1 million against the old Energy Watch company for false and misleading advertising.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.