Would you buy this wine because of the label ?
« F*ck the neighbors », « Hashtag this, motherf*cker, » « Chill the f*ck down, » What are you talking about », « Wow, that came out wrong », « Aren’t you a ray of f*cking sunshine »… No, those are not bits of dialogue of any soap opera, but it’s actually what you can find on some wine labels from « Church and State » winery , located in the Okanagan valley. A choice of label to attract customers, which, it must be said, are more than spoiled for choice when they’re facing thousands of wines available on the shelves. Must we build on the label to sell ? Should the consumer rely on the label or should he be wary of ?
By Frédéric Arnould
On April 1st, these labels have started to spread like wildfire among wine critics who received some « strange » bottles. Some have thought that this launch was an April Fool, others were aware of the guy behind this « marketing coup » and therefore knew what to expect. These labels are the work of Bernie Hadley-Beauregard, born in Montreal and whose business Brandever, set up shop in Vancouver. His speciality ? « Branding and rebranding « . An adventure that began in 2002 when the owners of an Okanagan estate seemed quite lost when the time came to promote their wines. Their domain was named Prpich Hills. No, there is no shortage of vowels here, so imagine the pronunciation challenge for potential customers. « Give me a bottle of Prppchhhjbcchh then … Oh no, I’ll take this Merlot here, instead ».
Bernie Hayley-Beauregard then pitched the idea of »Blasted Church » in reference to a church that was dismantled with explosives before being relocated in the area. The gamble worked and this vineyard is now one of the most prominent in the Okanagan Valley.
After that, Brandever created so many different new logos and new names such as « Dirty Laundry » (inspired by a Chinese railway worker who had opened a laundry room which was mainly a brothel), but also « Laughing Stock » (for amn estate held by former stockbrokers and whose label looks like stock quotes), or « Megalomaniac » (a Niagara vineyard managed by an owner with a well- assumed ego).
A matter of survival
But why go so far as these « Hashtag this motherfucker, » Carpe diem bitches « and » Fuck the neighbors « as part of the special series » Lost Inhibitions « of Church and State ? Bernie Hadley-Beauregard did the math: « There are 8,000 wineries in North America and 27,000 in France alone. If every winery produces ten wines, this means 350,000 different wines, so we must attract customers if they want to sell their product ». What he wants is to feed the conversation at the table, talk about it and especially appreciate what’s in the bottle. Must we then say goodbye to the traditional label proudly displaying the castle ? « No, he says, but it becomes difficult to stand out in the market where the consumer is inundated with products. »
To sell cheap wine?
These two wines (red and white) are « dressed » in a hundred different labels with these little provocative phrases. According to Bernie Hadley-Beauregard, the idea is to attract a consumer who will discover this wine because of the label and then he may be tempted to try the range of other wines produced by « Church and State « . « It’s a bit like trying the MINI Cooper (produced by BMW) and be tempted to try or buy then the real BMW. In the case of » Church and State « , we are talking about high quality wines some bottles. Even the famous great connoisseur of wine, Jancis Robinson, had called Syrah « Coyote Bowl » in 2009, as the best red wine produced in Canada. Bernie Hadley-Beauregard is aware that some will equate bold marketing and cheap wine, but he retorted: « How many piquettes are hiding behind labels with faux castles? Some believe, erroneously, that it must necessarily be a good wine if the label looks prestigious. « And in the case of the « Lost Inhibitions series, « he says, these are good well-made wines ».
After the animals …
A few years ago, it was the bugs that swarmed on the wine labels. The kangaroo of Yellow Tail, the « Little Penguins » and other « Funky Llama » were cluttering the shelves of liquor stores. These days, besides the kangaroo struggling to survive in the hearts of consumers, these animals have quite disappeared. Fashion or customer weariness, should we therefore expect a future disappearance of this type of marketing in the case of concepts like Brandever ones ? Bernie Hadley-Beauregard think it is cyclical and that the life of concepts is of the order of 5 to 8 years for some projects. This is normal, he adds, the one who wants the sustainability of its products must sometimes change tactics and why not the name also.
What about the wine then ?
For Church and State that accepted the challenge of Brandever, success has been tremendous. 7000 cases of these wines with those provocative labels were produced, but now the owners are struggling to meet the demand.
Brace yourself, the « lost inhibitions » white wine of the series Lost Inhibitions is a blend of Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat and Roussane ! A mix that stands quite well with floral aromas, citrus and hints of nectarine, white peach and apricot. Well balanced and enjoyable. The red one, is mostly comprised of Merlot and Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Sweet black cherries, cassis, with cocoa and vanilla aromas give a very pleasant, uncomplicated wine
And you, do you buy a wine based on the label?