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Tag Archives: wine on TV

TV wine commercials and their legacy

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TV wine commercials and their legacyKen Ross, at The Republican newspaper in Springfield, Mass., has a fine critical eye for TV wine commercials:

In commercial after commercial, for years and years, television ads created an elitist aura around wine that simply won’t go away. You need to live in a castle or wear a cravat to drink wine. You need to enunciate your words slowly and listen to Beethoven. You need to drive a Rolls Royce or have long, flowing blond hair that moves in slow motion.

Which is something that has been noted here several times. Wine ads on TV are decidedly unoriginal, especially when compared to commercials for beer and spirits. The orginal Miller Lite ads were groundbreaking, and even the recent Captain Morgan rum ads are interesting, if a tad silly.

But not wine. As Ross writes, “Watch a few wine commercials and you’ll start to notice a striking similarity from one bland ad to the next, especially during the ’70s and ’80s.” The reason? The wine business has spent the past 40 years using intimidation to market its product, bludgeoning us with Ross’ cravats. Wine isn’t fun like beer or rum, and you’d better not buy it for that reason. Or we’ll make fun of you.

Ross thinks the situation has improved, and links to 11 ads that he says demonstrate the change. One of them, for a brand that apparently isn’t made any more, is a nifty take-off on the old Grey Poupon mustard ad, and another, for an English wine retailer, captures exactly how terrified most consumers are when they browse a wine shop.

But that those two aren’t strictly wine commercials, and that four others on the list aren’t either, speaks to how pitiful most wine commercials remain. One reason for that, I think, is that the best wine marketers, companies like E&J Gallo and The Wine Group, which makes Cupcake, don’t do TV ads. If they did, they might reach Miller Lite heights (and a YouTube video for Gallo’s Barefoot line, promoting its non-profit Soles program, hints at that).

Or, with a little luck, they could scale the summit of the greatest wine commercial of all, Orson Welles for Paul Masson in the 1970s (courtesy of DarianGlover on YouTube):

Winebits 202: Cheap wine, postal service, wine on TV

Drink cheap wine: Slate, which just fired its wine writer, has an odd piece claiming that most wine is overpriced, criticizing Slate for recommending expensive wine, and advocating that we drink wine that costs less than $10 a bottle. Sound familiar? The post is intriguing to say the least, and the comments are so harsh that you'd have thought that Brian Palmer, who wrote it, is telling Americans to run down the street naked. I don't say it's odd because Palmer likes cheap wine; after all, the Wine Curmudgeon is perhaps the foremost enthusiast for cheap wine in the country. Or that he argues that one reason why European wine consumption is so much higher than ours is that prices are so much lower there. Rather, it's the dig that the article takes at Slate, and, by implicaton, departed wine columnist Mike Steinberger. Are some axes being ground?

Delivering wine by mail: Anyone who doubts that the Congress no longer has a grasp on reality need look no further than this — a proposal to let the U.S. Postal Service deliver wine. Currently, the postal service is forbidden to handle booze, but the usual group of bi-partisan senators wants to change that as a way to boost revenue for the cash-strapped agency. What their proposal doesn't take into account is HR 1161, the anti-shipping bill that aims to eliminate the very shipping that this bill wants to allow. If I had the stomach for it, I'd look and see which of this bill's sponsors has also spoken favorably about HR 1161. But I don't have the stomach for it, because I'm afraid of what I would find.

TV wine programsKris Chislett at BlogYourWine offers some clear-eyed analysis about why wine makes for a lousy TV show, noting that the programs are usually too long and the format is usually as visually dull as reading a wine magazine. This is something that I have always wondered about; somehow, programs on HGTV about people buying homes are a hit, but wine shows, to quote Chislett, "put me to sleep faster than 4 glasses of Australian Shiraz….laced with horse tranquilizers." He thinks one failing is a lack of personality, which may be true. On the other hand, even someone with a TV persona would have a difficult time making a Wine Magazine-style discussion — "Doesn't this wine have cheery notes of leather?" — worthwhile.

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