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Airship Photos

I’m working on a post with some thoughts about beer marketing (you won’t be surprised it stems from my recent brush with Stella Artois marketing efforts) but in the interim, I thought I’d post a link to my photos so I can share them with those of you who have been following my attempts to get airborne, and those I met on the way that I promised this to.

Click here for the full set (click on the slideshow button for the full effect)



Interactive Wine Sites

Over the next few days, thanks to their well established brand and their PR muscle, you’ll probably see several headlines like this one:

Roederer champagne launches new interactive website

I don’t know about you, but the interaction I want with my wine involves drinking it!

I don’t understand these Flash-based websites (you might want to go off and start the page loading, then return to read the article while you wait – but remember to turn the sound off).

The vast majority of people browsing the internet for wine are looking for:

  1. background details
  2. stockist information
  3. a ‘deal’
  4. fun

(check out Able Grape’s take on this too)

Using Flash to promote your wine brand is like hiring a stand-up comedian with ADHD to be your spokesperson – however amusing he may be, he is getting in the way of the message.

Sure, with Flash you get bells and whistles. In fact, the Louis Roederer site is like a unicycling bear that is playing La Marseillaise on his bells and whistles, but what are they doing to address the needs of the customers? What is the goal of the ‘interactivity’ on this site?

(oh, and by the way, that unicycling bear keeps falling off and his bells are out of tune – the sound on the site is awful and I keep getting stuck, unable to go back)

Joel Vincent made an interesting observation on a recent post on his blog Wine Life Today:

My bottom line points are simple. I’ve written about and preached on the “Wine Life Value Chain” where I talk about how the strength of a relationship basically has direct correlation to influencing a wine buyer. The closer you are, sociallogically, to the source of a wine recommendation the faster and more likely you are to buy it. So with that theorum guiding my thoughts we look at social media.

Flash CAN be a great tool to aid this relationship, but all too often it seems to be used to create a barrier between the people behind a wine and its consumers – something akin to a prestidigitator’s distraction technique.

One might argue that this is exactly how Champagne has managed to create a strong stylish brand, separating itself from its plain and homely still wine cousins – we’re missing that ‘magic’ ingredient. Maybe that is why it was used and I’m the one who is missing the point.

In any case, my preference is for sites that engage me in a meaningful relationship, that have answers to my questions and encourage me to commit myself in some way to the brand in the way they are doing with me.

The interactivity I seek is knowing that the winery, or winemaker, cares what I think, and helps me to both taste and understand their wines. Here are a couple I have come across recently that make me feel this way.

Neither of these sites has spent anything like the amount of money Louis Roederer must have done, but I get so much more out of them because I feel I know the wine, the people and the reasons for their existence so much better and on a more personal level.

And talking of interactivity, I’d love to hear your comments on these sites as well. Have I missed the point on the Champagne site, or am I too committed to blogs? Let me know.

(Photo Let it Float, courtesy of hashmil)

My, what fantastic tapas you have!

Excuse the cross-promotion, but as time is short and I suspect there are lots of people out there who have not yet heard of this, I thought I would point you to a post I wrote on my Rioja blog here:

Fantastic Tapas

The festival is an interesting event targeting consumers with food, wine and music in one event, and sponsored by a single wine region: Rioja.

I think that this sort of event will become a more popular way of reaching consumers, particularly younger wine drinkers, than spending vast amounts on advertising as it gets wine samples directly into the consumers’ hands, and gives it a new context (in this case a range of authentic tapas).

If you do have time on the weekend of 28/29th June, why not come along?

Tapas Fantasticas
Ely’s Yard, Brick Lane
London
29-29 June, 2008
12:00 – 18:00

Wine & Photography – some further thoughts

My previous post solicited a few responses which I felt I had to respond to here and here.

The interesting thing is that photography could do lots of different things for wine. It COULD be about the tasting experience. It COULD be just about selling the product and packaging recognition.

But I think it COULD be so much more. I should point out that the whole reason for this blog is not to sell any wine, but to talk about how important wine is, or could be, in our society.

Let’s take them separately so I can explain my thinking, and the differences.

PHOTOGRAPHY AS A TASTING NOTE
As we have discussed, there are those who are already trying this, in particular Chateau Petrogasm. The point of the image is to express something unique or descriptive about what is INSIDE the bottle. They do not need to pick a brand for this as this concept applies to any wine. This is a very useful addition to the communications armoury of any winery or retailer.

The limitations of this, in terms of adding to the general perception and role of wine, is that it targets those who have pretty much already decided they could buy this product, but they would like to know a little more about exactly what they will experience when they open it.

But what about the undecideds?

PHOTOGRAPHY AS A SALES DRIVER
mince pieThe important point that Andrew made was that selling wine requires context. I agree. He mentions the kind of photography he likes, and happens to be very good at, which is wine and food. The photograph acts as a means to communicate an ideal occasion and partnership for the wine, be it food or location.

There may be people out there who had not yet conceived of buying wine, but whose occasion matched the image (dinner party, specific food match, …) who would be influenced by the communication of this image.

The trouble is, neither of these reasons does what I set out to do, which is to use photography to say something about the role of wine, or a SPECIFIC brand of wine, in an individual’s life or generally in our culture (the wine conversation).

[Photo by Wine Scribbler (Andrew Barrow) :: Unfortunately for a post about photography I do not have access to photos of these topics as I have simply made them up, so to brighten up this post I am borrowing one of Andrew Barrow's excellent photos for you to enjoy.]


PHOTOGRAPHY AS BRAND COMMUNICATION TOOL

Lots of wines will taste of brambles and spice. Many of these wines will be a great match for lamb and lentils. But which would you choose?

How about the one that is drunk by a George Clooney look-alike, whilst resting in a large leather armchair in an oak panelled room, and being served his food on a silver tray?

“I’ll have what he’s having!” It says ‘I like old fashioned luxury’.

Or maybe it is a wine that has refreshing citrus and exotic fruit flavours? Maybe you’d choose one that was matched to a grilled fish with cous-cous and aubergine tapenade drizzled with olive oil and set against a Greek sunset?

But how about the one that has diamonds drizzled in a glass instead, and shows the sunset from the deck of a yacht whilst the pristine white towel sits on the deck chair awaiting its mistress’ return from her dip in the sea?

“I’ll have what she’s having!” It says ‘I’m a modern, independent person used to always getting the best’.

This is branding. I could go on and maybe vary the target groups a bit more. How about a message about an active, independent retiree enjoying a moment of well-deserved relaxation with the family? Or how about a young woman surprising her partner with a bottle of wine as a little bit of just-affordable-luxury with their fish & chips to celebrate them buying their first apartment together?

The message does not have to be about the wine or even how it is consumed. It should be about what makes this wine different from all other wines, and what buying it, or consuming it, says about that person (even if they do not like it).

Champagne does exactly this. Spirits do this. Why not still wine?

Wine has not really come to terms with this and continues to focus so much on the product itself rather than these ‘extended’ features of the brand, something which is second nature to anyone in most other consumer marketing fields.

I am not advocating selling wine solely on this basis, as one of the things that separates wine from many other products is its “agricultural/natural” authenticity and individuality, and its continuously evolving nature. However, wine is a luxury, whether we like it or not, and there is a LOT of competition in this field from people and products who can do this better.

Whilst thinking about this topic I have browsed through the latest wine magazines on my desk and the quality of imagery in the advertising, other than for champagne, is woeful. I thought about it, but decided I will not even bother to reproduce them.

If wine producers ever want to sell their wine for more than simply the cost of production, and sometimes not even that, then they are going to have to start communicating some of the ‘other’ benefits of their brands.

So, is there a photo out there that says some of these things above about wine (ANY wine) without actually having to involve a glass or a bottle? Or at least only peripherally?

What emotions, actions, associations … do we have with wine that could be expressed visually so as to say something new about wine?

Maybe this is a meaningless quest, but I think it is worth at least asking the question. No?

A better attempt at wine in Tetra Pak

[... or my revised title: "Thinking of Outside the Box" - see comments]

Le Village du Sud is a new brand concept from the well respected Mont Tauch cooperative in the South of France (specifically in Fitou).

It caught my attention as, once again, they are being pretty innovative with their branding and their route to market. They have usually provided wines that are a cut above the competition, and they have also been much more willing to take on marketing activities, such as bringing wine makers and grape growers (who speak no English but really look the part) to wine tastings across the UK, including the BBC Good Food Show where I saw them.

This time it is the Tetra Pak, something I have written about in the past. Once again it is available from The Coop. They are certainly keener than most to do something ‘sustainable’ and positive for the environment – whether environmentally friendly or fairtrade.

The wine in question is an Old Vine Grenache in a 1 litre tetra pak. The packaging itself is a little different, with extra angles and a “prism shape”. However, what I found intriguing is that they have managed to move the design away from being a pseudo glass bottle. They have realised that a tetra pak allow you to do a lot more with the packaging than simply copy the information from a label (which is always extremely limited) or to show a picture of a bottle or glass (the usual cop-out).

This one has a series of cartoons that give the wine an extra dimension of personality not usually associated with Vin de Pays d’Oc, especially as it is in English. This is very bold, forward-thinking and fun.

Shame about the wine!

As I always point out, this is not a site for tasting notes, but I did try this wine to see if I could detect something specifically “tetra pak like” in it, just to see if the packaging affected the taste. Now, I admit this was not done blind, but I have no problem liking wines in other packaging, so I was not negatively predisposed. However, I found a very unpleasant aftertaste in the wine which I assume must come from the packaging as I do actually like their wines normally. I’d love to read more informed views on whether this is a truly inert packaging format for wine.

Finally, a niggle. If you look at the front of the packaging, you’ll see a badge which I also saw on the previous tetra pak I reviewed called masterpeace.

“33% free” and “33% more wine free compared to a standard 75cl bottle”

FREE? There are lots of objections to this statement, chief of which is that this wine is NOT available in 75cl glass bottles, so how can it possibly be compared? Also, this wine was already discounted, ostensibly for the launch, from £4.99 to £3.99. Quite how much of a cheap and “drink loads” mentality do they want to associate with this wine?

I do hope that 1L formats will not keep using this statement.

Overall review; nice idea, but once again more show than substance, largely due to the final quality of the wine.

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