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More Adventures in Wine Advertising

Within the canon of good advertising, the laws of, “To sell,” and “To be memorable” exist for noble men and women of character, creativity and marketing acumen to abide with sanctity. Nowhere, however, is there a law that says, “To create confusion.”

Yet, it’s “confusion” that passes for most wine advertising these days.

Regular Good Grape readers know that I like to take the occasional look at wine advertising to find the “memorable,” often times with disappointing results. 

Comedian Patton Oswalt, as quoted in a Paste magazine article, has said, “Pointing out that stuff sucks is not edgy or dangerous anymore.  Everyone knows what sucks. What’s better is to find the stuff that’s amazing and hold it up.”

I agree with him.  But, I’ll start with the next article, though. 

Herewith, a couple of examples of recent print ads from importers or producers that have appeared in major wine-related magazines in the past 60 days (with my commentary).

Ghost Pines


As seen in:  Wine & Spirits

Goat or Gloat?

Ponderous, man.  Ponderous.  The Sub-head says, “Excellence has no boundaries.”  The scant copy says, “Our winemaking philosophy will not be bound by county lines.”

I haven’t the slightest idea what this means.  Fruit is sourced from both Sonoma and Napa?  The winemaker lives in Sonoma, but keeps a mistress in Napa?

Is “Excellence has no boundaries” enough of a sales value proposition to support an advertising campaign, let alone live on as a platitude on the wall of a high school locker room?

I went to the Ghost Pines web site (under construction), and it offers this nugget, “Sonoma spirit, Napa elegance proving that excellence knows no bounds.”

I have no idea what this ad is about, who it might be intended for or what it is supposed to be compelling me to do.  It’s like flipping on an HBO movie 45 minutes into it and realizing that your time is better spent on something that you don’t have to work too hard to figure out, which is what 99% of readers of Wine & Spirits probably did as they flipped the page past this goat of an ad.

J. Lohr


As seen in:  Wine Enthusiast

Goat or Gloat?

This ad represents a new direction for J. Lohr who have been using the same campaign featuring Jerry Lohr and winemaker Jeff Meier for years. 

Unfortunately, it needs work. One of the principal lessons I learned as a student of advertising in Journalism school is to never go “clever.”  Clever is a crutch for those that don’t have a clearly articulated idea.  And, so it is here.

The headline says, “Leave no ‘stone unturned.”  I looked at this ad for three minutes trying to figure out how the headline matched up with the visual.

Ah, upon close inspection, real close inspection, the wine turned upside down in the ice bucket is the J. Lohr “Riverstone” Chardonnay.  I get it, even if it’s like a bad “knock-knock” joke.

If an ad is like conducting a speech to a live audience of 500,000 people and you want to tell a joke, but at least 2/3 of the audience won’t get it, do you still tell the joke?  Of course not, you say something that resonates with as many people as possible.

Not surprisingly, the sub-head of, “Flavor second to none” is a complete non sequitur from the visual and the headline.

Nice striking visual, bad concept.  Overall, a goat of an ad.

Opici Wines


As seen in:  Wine Enthusiast

Goat or Gloat?

Likely the first ad from this longtime importer.  The copy, on the backdrop visual of a pair of rolling dice, says, “Why roll the dice?  Bet on a sure thing.”

I get this ad, but the majority of Wine Enthusiasts’ readers probably don’t.  Wine lovers who are really in tune with the wine world know that the sticker on a bottle of wine from certain importers is a badge of endorsement, indicating quality and thoughtful curation within a portfolio.  Obviously, Opici wants to brand themselves as arbiters of quality and a correlating portfolio.

Unfortunately, most of the wine consuming world doesn’t know what Michael Skurnik wines represents, let along Opici wines.

This ad is a good idea that needs to be substantiated with some copy …  overall not a goat, not anything to gloat about, either.  At least it’s the only ad that will not get a potential intern thrown out of an interview with a good Creative Director.

Seen any good (or bad) wine advertising lately?  Let me know in the comments.


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (9) |


On 07/14, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Most of the print ads I see for wine makers are a porno shot of a wine bottle and maybe a cluster of grapes and not much else, so at least a couple of these ad agencies are trying some kind of copy.  Not very good copy, I grant you, but they are at least at the plate.

I wish you were opening the door to making fun of winery Websites.  I’m not talking about the tiny family winery that had their nephew put something together, since I can appreciate bootstrap budgets and fear of the Interweb, but about the obviously big-budget site with inscrutable, or hard-to-navigate content combined with an excessive use of Flash.

On 07/14, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

Amen, Rick.

May I add one more snark to the above? If you’re going to refer to pines in the text - or, especially, in the brand name or label - the tree in the visual really ought to be a pine…

On 07/14, Katie wrote:

If I may be so bold, I’d like to put up Twisted Oak’s new ad campaign against any of these snooze fests. Let’s just say I know the designer…uhh…pretty well. Because T.O. is known for its sense of humor (or at least Jeff is) I pitched the idea of doing a campaign that played off of Absolut’s campaign, where everything is shaped like the Absolut bottle. Instead we opted to use T.O.‘s mascot, the rubber chicken, and sent him out into the world to “Twist” everything. No pretense here.

On 07/15, Isaaks of Salem wrote:

  You have me laughing out load with the ‘Pine’ on the label.  I have never seen a pine like that before, maybe a young Birch tree, but not a pine!  What were they thinking here???

On 07/15, Mart S - Grotto Wine Racks wrote:

I don’t know if it’s me or anything, but all of the layouts above have no appeal to me or in a way persuasive. I believe they have to do more brainstorming on what would be the next layout would be that would catch a wine enthusiast question. Plus, the fact that wines are fungible in my own opinion. Cheers!

On 07/20, El Jefe wrote:

That may be a pine, actually. It looks like an especially unwell specimen of what is called a “bull pine” or “digger pine” around here. It grows at foothill elevations and is generally considered a large and dangerous weed, since it has a tendency to fall over dead at a moments notice. Don’t park your car near one!

On 07/13, Ryan wrote:

It’s really amazing how marketing can go one way or another. It doesn’t seem to matter anymore these days what a company stands for, as long as they bring in money. Although there are still many companies out there that only stand by their beliefs and practices and have done so for years. I’ll be honest, there hasn’t been too many times in my life where I’ve bought something solely for their advertising or slogan. To me, it’s all about the product.

On 03/26, TN Pas Cher wrote:


On 04/17, Boston Signs wrote:

If you want your business to grow then good advertising is a must. Like this wine business. Using advertising will really help this business to be known by people.


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