Sunday, May 9, 2010
Celebrity Endorsed Wines
As you likely know, wines are identified by two primary methods. The first, by appellation (where it’s produced); the second, by name of major grape varietal. A third is “Proprietary,” by which the winery/producer creates a particularly unique wine and trademark-names it. Brand loyalty and product trust underlies the success of this method. It also frees the producer from appellation or varietal labeling requirements. Robert Mondavi’s “Opus One” and Joseph Phelps’ “Insignia” are notable California examples. Another, but much more transparent method of identifying and labeling wine is the Celebrity Endorsement method.
Americans and Europeans are enamored with celebrities and their lifestyles. The media is saturated with details that often plumb into embarrassingly personal depths, and, as such, fans are able to feast on the daily occurrences of their idols. Product endorsements are a natural outcome of this celebrity fascination. Perfumes, clothing, and personal care products are rife with marketing possibilities, whereby the consumer can fantasize, via the products they purchase, that they have the same lifestyle, if not the same life, as their revered objects of fascination.
Central to the Celebrity Wine concept is the notion that the inherent qualities and characteristics of wines, and their underlying grapes, can be identified and matched to similar personality traits of the celebrity. Whether or not there can ever be a realistic or believable match is, of course, open to question.
For example, it seems that the popular and charismatic John Daly of PGA golf fame has given his name to seven different red and white wines. Now, if you know John as I know John, you know John likes beer. Lots of it. Personally, I find it quite difficult, if not impossible, to visualize old “Grip it and Rip it” gently swirling and sniffing crystal stemware filled with a Chardonnay that celebrates his “trademark swing . . . full of raw power and intensity.” No, John, I’m not buying into it.
And lastly, it seems Barry Manilow (yes, “that” Barry Manilow) also sells his own line of wines. “Mandy’s Merlot?” “Copacabana Cabernet?” “Manilow’s Meritage?” Nah, he wouldn’t do that, would he?
Nevertheless, and I don’t recall who first said it, but this marketing concept, wine or otherwise, recalls an old yarn: “There are ten million pigeons in America. Half of them are birds, the other half buy celebrity endorsed products.”