Once upon a time, marketing wine involved extremely little obvious panache or verve: bottles had labels, price tags, and some had reputations, and one bought the bottle with the most suitable combination of qualities. Most of us shopped for wine almost randomly, a pattern aggravated by the way labels drifted into and out of stock at particular vendors.
I’ve lately observed two new tacks for marketing wine. The first, which I detest, involves cooking up a cutesy name for the wine, and designing an loud, eye-catching label. Since I do my best to make marginally-informed decisions when buying wine, the uninformative-name-and-label combination adds frustration to condescending insult. Here’s a message to wine marketers: no matter how good your wine is, I will not buy it if you slap a puerile joke name onto it. My (almost) twelve-year-old daughter noticed this trend the other day, and she was insulted by it. Call your wine “Mynah Triumph” and label it with a bird, and you can guarantee I won’t buy a drop of it.
The other tactic I noticed was Hugh’s campaign on behalf of Stormhoek. Hugh has persuaded Stormhoek to give away wine to bloggers — no questions asked. He reasons that (on the whole) bloggers will tell the truth about the wine, and that the odds suggest that a good many will write about it, and so Stormhoek gets the free publicity, the market research, and the meta-PR buzz of having developed a snappy campaign.
Oh, and the name isn’t a cloyingly clever joke, and the label actually tells you useful things about the wine.
[Full Disclosure: No, I haven’t gotten a free bottle of wine to promote the “free bottle of wine” campaign; if offered a bottle, I would accept it, but it doesn’t look as though U.S. citizens have a chance for the time being. I’d rather pay for a bottle of wine I know I’ll enjoy, than try to weed out the noble, workmanlike claret from the throngs of trendy “Goats Do Roam,” “Mad Housewife,” and “Smoking Loon.” For short, my Weinberger Real Disclosure Forward Looking Statement (WRDFLS) = FT2 SUT IJND]