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Field Notes from a Wine Life

Odds and ends from the wine notebook …

Anybody who watches Top Chef, or any reality show or movie these days knows that product placement is ever-present. 

I recently watched Sex and the City, the Movie and there was a very clunky inclusion of an iPhone in the wedding scene.  I watched Iron Man and there was a very overt inclusion of a Burger King cheeseburger when Tony is rescued from Afghanistan.

I watch Top Chef and there are “beat you over the head” inclusions of Glad containers, GE Monogram appliances, and Diet Dr. Pepper.

Then, on a more subtle note, I saw a very brief glimpse of the Tamari Reserva Torrontes during the “Restaurant Wars” episode on Top Chef this past week.  A lingering camera shot on the Cuvaison Pinot Noir followed it.

The good folks at Terlato Wine Group are doing a nice bit of marketing.  I knew the Tamari, because I received a bottle as a sample.

No review here for the wine as my palate has been wrecked this week as I grappled with the flu, but suffice to say it’s a pleaser and an up and coming varietal at nice price (US$13)

This whole product placement notion does have me interested, however.  I read a recent article that discussed the positive effects of unconscious exposure to advertising, and, well, product placement works is the take-away. 

Excerpted from the article:

One of the most surprising aspects of visual exposure effects, according to Changizi, is that they are enhanced when visual exposure occurs without conscious recognition.

Advertising that takes the form of apparel branded with company’s names, and products strategically placed in movies and television shows often go unnoticed by consumers, capitalizing on our brain’s mechanisms to modulate preference based on non-conscious exposure.

Changizi’s research suggests that such advertising tactics work because they tap into our non-conscious mechanisms for optimal preferences, hijacking them for selling a company’s products. The research could hold potential for marketers interested in optimizing their advertising for the human mind, Changizi says.

I tried to connect with Steve Singerman, PR Director at Terlato, via another PR team member at the wine company, but was unable to do so.  Specifically, I am curious what a relatively small wine company sees as the value of product placement.

In my opinion, as we continue to see a consumer backlash against mass media advertising, with a desire for organic “discovery,” product placement will become even more important because it places the wine in context, in the case of Top Chef, it put it in the context of dining at a restaurant, for example.  If shopping at the store for a wine to enjoy with dinner, according to the research mentioned above, who knows what can act as a trigger for our purchase decision.  Some vague recollection of having seen the label before might be enough to sway a purchase, all things considered equal.

The Wine Makers TV Update

After a receiving a recent verbal tongue lashing from The Wine Makers Producer Kevin Whelan (noted in this post), he indicated that the press kit for the show would be available on Friday, January 16th.  After an extensive online search for it, the press kit does not appear to be online and the web site http://www.thewinemakerstv.net is still down, with the URL in a state of flux. 

Thought of the Day

As a matter of principal, I do not take sides in the ongoing “terroir” debate.  I can appreciate terroir and I can likewise appreciate a large production Chardonnay with national distribution, like the Toad Hollow, for example.  I understand the difference between the French view of a vigneron (wine grower) and New World winemakers. 

I was struck, however, by a quote from musician Ani DiFranco was she was talking about musical instruments – she said:

“A guitar doesn’t come from the factory with a soul, so a lot of the guitars I play on stage are earning their soul right now.” 

What if a wine’s soul did not come from the ground it grew in, but from the people and the circumstance in which that wine was drunk?  Like a guitar earning its soul …



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