I must admit, this was one occasion where an advertising salesperson trying to sell adspace actually sounded interesting. “The thing with you wine people,” the lady from Die Burger’s sales-office said in a voice that could launch nuclear submarines, “is that you want everything for fuck-all.”
Not exactly from the Dale Carnegie School of Encouraging Potential Clients, but still a breath of fresh air compared to the pleading, canoodling and yarn-spinning shown by most advertising salespeople trying to sell to wine clients.
The great thing was that her enthusiastic dissertation on the spending patterns of wine marketers made it possible for me to tell her what to do with her telephone, which orifice to stick it in and at what angle.
Advertising is why wine publications fold. Ask Wine Magazine. When Alan Ramsay from Ramsay Media asked me three months ago why wineries were not advertising in Wine, I knew the writing was on the wall. I mean, if you haven’t figured that out after almost 20 years, you are wasting valuable kitchen space.
Bluntly put, the South African wine industry does not have the market-spend to appeal to the whims of media-buyers trying to support a wine publication. It is that simple.
Just because a winery is winning awards, its product sold in top-notch restaurants and sipped in First Class does not mean the brand in question has the budget to sustain an annual media advertising campaign that conservatively put can run close to R2m a year. A few of the corporates ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ DGB, Distell, KWV ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ are capable of this, along with a few independent brands, such as Robertson Winery, Van Loveren, Namaqua and Orange River Cellars.
These guys are probably responsible for 98% of all wine ad-spend in the South African media. And then there is the other factor of the wine industry’s contribution of less than 5% to the total SA liquor industry ad-spend.
This is, unfortunately, a chicken and egg scenario: more ad-spend is needed to shift local wine sales to a new gear. But the money is just not there. The fact that we are sitting with a lack of industry leadership unwilling to embark on local generic wine marketing campaigns just aggravates the sorry situation.
Having said that I’d like to raise a glass to the energy of the passionate wine communicators who play a major role in spreading the Vinous Gospel among South Africans. With the limited marketing budgets to the wine industry’s disposal, the editorial columnists, bloggers, tweeters, facebookers and just plain purveyors of lyrical waxings deserve to take a bow. The wine industry might not have as high and advertising profile as the beer and spirits mongers, but in social media and editorial press we are kicking serious butt.
This is why I say: bring on the advertising ban on liquor products. With level playing fields the wine industry will come out smoking, capture the high ground and gain a greater band of fervent followers.