I have often wondered why wine isn’t as fun as spirits and beer. For example, let’s compare the advertising for spirits and beer to wine (if you can find any advertising for wine).
If you watch TV, read or attend events you will find spirits and beer advertising portraying pool parties, football/basketball/baseball games, bonfires on the beach, big houses, “keggers”, vacations, Jägermeister girls, Jello shots, Rat Pack, Moscow Mules, music festivals, happy hour…and on and on and on.
If you can find any wine advertising it’s usually beautiful photos of vineyards on a hillside. Or some quality story about the wine. Have I lost your interest yet? Bueller… Bueller… Anyone… Anyone?
Come on, you have to admit that when you think about beer and spirits, it’s all about high-energy activity (including sex, which is the cornerstone of spirits advertising). Don’t believe me? Simply do a Google search for spirits, beer or wine advertising and look at the differences in the advertising images.
Wine is typically about family, special personal life moments (it would be very odd to toast the bride and groom with a beer), food pairing (nobody cares if you are drinking vodka or bourbon with fish), and sitting on the couch after work with a glass of wine. In short, wine is about the really special times in your life and the everyday tasks we all perform. That’s cool, but it’s not exactly fun.
However, Madison Avenue can make us believe anything. If you don’t think advertising can mold and shape what we believe, go back and look at cigarette ads from the 1950’s and see doctors recommending certain cigarette brands for health reasons. “Nervous tension? Here’s a pack of unfiltered Camels”. Thank you doctor!
Why are sporting events the domain of beer? Why not wine? Why aren’t there big wine signs in centerfield at Yankees stadium? Why did the Rat Pack never have a wine glass in their hands?
Wine is a fraction of the beer and spirits categories, which have historically been leaders in America’s drinking culture. In fact, wine only started to be ingrained in our culture in the 1970’s! It wasn’t that long ago that "Chablis" and "Hearty Burgundy" were the only two wine offerings available. When my generation was young (ouch, that hurts to write that in words), it was beer and mixed drinks at happy hour. I don’t think wine by the glass was even an option at many bars in the early 80’s. Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention.
Over the past 30 years, you need to look no further than the vast array of choices you have at almost every restaurant to see how far we have come. According to the Wine Institute, even though the United States consumes more wine than any other country in the world, our per capita consumption ranked only #62 in 2014, right behind Macau (I think that’s right. My fact checker, Finn the black lab, is taking a nap and not available right now). Wine still doesn’t have that “fun” pull that spirits and beer do.
What if Thomas Jefferson had been able to spread his love of wine (and all things French) throughout the country as effectively as he completed the Louisiana land purchase? Would a wine company have owned the St. Louis Cardinals? Would college students be doing cabernet Jello shots? Would there be Domain St. Sexy Girls? Would Mila Kunis be preening over a perfectly toasted French oak barrel?
Hard to tell. But if the market is big enough, like I said before, Madison Avenue can make us believe anything.
I like our positioning of wine as part of life… both the normal and the special parts. We are slowly establishing a wine culture in the United States, where wine is an accepted everyday activity, not only a special event. We may never have the “Wine Company X Chardonnay Center”, but I can live with wine on everyone’s table, every day!