Pat Nolan Blog

Some bright ideas in wine and spirits marketing (not)…

The Irish Times ran an interesting article recently about how off the mark some marketing ideas can be.

In a piece entitled Some bad ideas are so terrible they deserve an award Laura Slattery refers to some dystopian tie-ins such as one wine company’s brilliant idea to market a range of wines under the ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ brand.

“This multimillion dollar, all-shade drama is enough to drive anyone to drink” writes Laura, “so for marketers at producer MGM, an alcoholic tie-in must have seemed like the next delightful step. After all, there’s nothing distasteful about naming a Pinot Noir or a Cabernet Sauvignon after characters who are victims of repeated, systemic rape, abuse and mutilation. It’s totally unremarkable to adorn the bottle labels with their subjugated silhouettes, then describe the wine inside as ‘seductive’ and ‘beguiling’.

“Wait” she admonishes herself, “it turns out there is a problem with all of that. The Handmaid’s Tale wine collection: not available at any good off-licences, or anywhere anymore.”

She also goes on to highlight the poor timing (and taste) of Bristol Dry Gin whose 75% ABV vodka was named ‘Novichok’ and who – accurately as it turns out – described its product as “no laughing matter”.

This product was “off the market almost as soon as it arrived on it after the distillery admitted the timing of its release ‘may have lacked sensitivity’.

Novichok vodka: Russia denies it’s one of theirs.

Novichok vodka: Russia denies it’s one of theirs.

“It seems to have thought that as former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia had recovered from being poisoned by Novichok in March, it was fine to reinvent the toxic nerve agent as a vodka brand to ‘lighten the mood’,” writes Laura, “It wasn’t” she continues, “and not just because two more people in Britain had subsequently come into contact with the nerve agent, one of them fatally.”

Makes Guinness Light look like a light laugh now, doesn’t it?

Sign Up for Drinks Industry Ireland

Get a free weekly update on Drinks Industry trade news, direct to your inbox. Sign up now, it's free