Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Other people's fantasies (a follow up to my post on wine-on-TV)

So, you've won the lottery. How are you going to spend the cash?

Most people's answers unsurprisingly include new homes - often for loved ones as well as themselves - cars, boats and planes. Travel features too, wrapped up in dreams of sleeping in vast hotel beds and eating and drinking in the world's finest restaurants.

What does not appear in many people's lottery fantasies is sudden ownership of a cellarful of legendary wine, or even a few dozen bottles. Obviously there are people who fantasise about wine, just as there are musicians who imagine having their very own Stradivarius or Fender Stratocaster and keen bikers who might love to drop $45,000 on the world's lightest bike. (It weighs less than three kilos).

Fairwheel Bikes $45,000 effort, as seen on gearjunkie 

If you move in circles where great guitars, bikes or bottles of wine are talked about and maybe occasionally seen, of course, those things are more likely to feature in your fantasies. Wall Street and the City of London are full of overpaid people who've come close enough to Petrus or Harlan Estate to want to have a stash of their own. But, I'll bet that these are the exceptions to the fantasy rule. Most people would probably put filling a cellar quite low on their post lottery-win shopping list.

Which is why marketing wine in the context of the stuff people do fantasise about makes such sense. It's something spirits brands have always understood. With a little bit of advertising skill, a $20 bottle of vodka or bourbon, or even a cheap bottle of vermouth, could whisk you into a world of sophistication where Brad and Angelina are just waiting to meet you for dinner.

Champagne brands have always understood this perfectly, and Heineken proved their appreciation of it last year when they spent a reported $45m on having their beer feature briefly as a Bond tipple in Skyfall, and in promoting the fact in a global campaign.

Bollinger famously gets its link with 007 for nothing - thanks to a friendship that began in 1973 between Christian Bizot, chairman of the Champagne house and Cubby Broccoli, producer of the movies. 

Hubert de Bouard of Chateau Angelus said that getting his wine into Casino Royale cost him "some cash and some wine" and described the impact of the placement as "unbelievable".

Most wine producers and distributors lack the cash or luck to link their liquid to fantasies as extravagant as Bond movies, but associating them with the more mundane fantasies countless millions people have of a holiday in France, Australia, Italy or wherever, or a romantic dinner in a restaurant or at home does make sense. And a lot more sense than focusing on soil and vines. 

Unless, of course, the likely buyer of your wine really is the kind of wine enthusiast who really does get excited by the differences between chalk, clay and granite.

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