Vrede en Lust Takes Marketing Limelight


Nico Panagio and Anel Alexander getting some wood in "Semi Soet".

The situation of wine marketing is ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ in South Africa, at least ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ akin to the kind of free-for-all found in rugby rucks officiated by a blind referee. At the one end there is a diverse media spectrum united in the ridiculous belief that wineries and their brands are sitting on piles of cash just waiting to be spent on advertising. As a participant in aforementioned ruck, I am confronted on a daily basis by magazines such as Organic Camping Weekly or Still Life with Bokkom convincing me that by “taking a page” my brands will fly.

The situation is made more confusing by bloggers – claiming a few trillion site visits per second – making the generous offer of filming a client on a handy-cam and plonking the five minute unedited talking head on said site for a mere R10,000.

But wait, there’s more: dish out R1000 and you’ll get your wine talked about on radio for a full minute! Want a bunch of tweeters to start tweeting about your brand? Yours, for R8 per tweet.

At the other end of this two-way street is an industry needing to communicate to key audiences. An industry which, without the mega-budgets of the beer, spirits and cider brands, has to find a way of proactively telling the unique story of wine in a narrative that traditional and new audiences will find compelling.

The challenge is complicated by the fact that each brand needs to communicate a different set of values as it is variety that makes wine unique.

Through this hazy clutter and piles of rancid marketing bullshit, it is refreshing to find a stroke of marketing masterpiece in these thar’ vinous woods. Such stroke belongs to Dana Buys of Vrede en Lust, the Simondium-Simonsberg-Franschhoek spread he owns and runs on a tangible hands-on basis.


Filming on Vrede en Lust.


In this instance, Buys’s tango-partner is an Afrikaans movie. Squeam! Well, one may. As a 100% piece of Boere beef I can reliability state that the Afrikaans cinema of late has not been something us Dutchmen could flex our pecs about.

But enter this cute little romantic comedy called Semi Soet. It is well-acted by a cast portraying a smorgasbord of likeable modern South Africans, has sparkling moments of genuine comedy and visually it is from top-to-tail a professional-looking movie with an authentic modern South African atmosphere.

So, what has this to do with wine and marketing? Well, Vrede en Lust pretty much owns the movie as it and wine is central to the storyline.

The story combines a three-way love interest with a case of mistaken identity. This situation is thrown together by the need for two marketing agencies to pitch for the account of a wine farm. To ensure the agency representatives – two good-looking couples (this is the movies, after all) – get to grips with the prospective client, they leave the Big Smoke of Gauteng to spend a week-end on the farm one of them will end-up representing.

Enter Vrede en Lust as “the Client”.

Pretty much half the film shows vineyards, dramatic mountain vistas and magnificent Cape Dutch buildings. Viewers are also introduced to various aspects of the wine culture such as tasting, harvesting and the fact that many of the old Cape farms come with heritage, lost love and more than a bit of nostalgia.

The Vrede en Lust brand features all over the show, and the owner is even a Buys – although Dana himself apparently couldn’t find time to hang a Hollywood himself. Be that as it may, fine young actors including Nico Panagio, Louw Venter, Diaan Lawrenson, Paul du Toit and the gorgeously fruit-forward Anel Alexander bring an infectious energy and brisk freshness to a film that is hard not to like.

Semi Soet has already got the media in a tizz ?+¦-+???+¦-ú?-¦?+¦-ú?+¦+¦ the high circulation consumer media, that is. And with the film opening in 70 Ster-Kinekor cinemas nation-wide, expect Vrede en Lust to get a lot of people looking at the wine-lands, the wine culture in general and wine itself with titillation and delight.

Sure, to get the kind of opportunity Vrede en Lust did you have to be in the right place at the right time. As well as endure a film crew stomping around your farm for eight weeks.

But these out-of-the-box opportunities need be hunted down, as Jack London said, with a club in your hand.

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