Winebits 227: Booze ads, wine scandal, wine prices
• FTC will investigate alcohol ads: The rise of social media has had an unintended consequence — exposing underage consumers to wine, beer and spirits ads that they might not have seen before. After all, how many 12-year-olds read the Wine Spectator? Hence the news that the Federal Trade Commission is requiring the major alcoholic beverage advertisers to detail their use of digital marketing and data collection practices. Adweek reports that in 2008, these companies spent just 2 percent of their marketing buget on new media, but that regulators expect that that figure has increased significantly over the past several years. In fact, says the story, the biggest booze producers have found social media to be quite effective at reaching younger consumers, and telling the difference between young and too young in the cyber-ether is quite difficult.
• Did top critic take cash? That's what a Montreal newspaper, La Presse, is reporting. The French-language newspaper says former Wine Spectator critic James Suckling was paid C$24,000 (about US$24,200) by the Quebec liquor authority, which runs the province's wine stores, and the hint is that it was for favorable reviews. This is the latest in a series of pay for play scandals among the Winestream Media that included Robert Parker's Wine Advocate. The Wine Curmudgeon is shocked, shocked, to learn that gambling is going on.
• Decanter readers don't want cheap wine: Decanter, the English wine magazine, has been accused of "unashamed elitism" in a letter from a reader. So it ran a poll asking if it should review cheaper wines. The answer? Not really. Only 27 percent of respondents said the magazine should review more wines costing less than £10 (about US$16), while the rest said either the current policy was OK or that maybe wines for less than £15 (about $US24) would be acceptable. This is yet another example of why there will always be an England.