Everyone wants to be loved. Everyone wants to be understood. And everyone wants to be acknowledged – to stand out from their peers.
The paradox is that to get the third thing, you need to put the first two in jeopardy.
Chateau Petrogasm, a blog that reviews wine using only a single picture, is doing the third thing very well. Among wine review sites it’s unique.
Below are its two most recent reviews. Taken together they’re edgy. They have the potential to offend someone other than just the wine producer, which is an interesting switch. But enough talk, have a look for yourself:
Now, after you choke down your guilty little chuckle, appreciate what Ben and KIH (the respective authors of the posts) have achieved here. There’s some humor, sure, but unlike some of their other work the messages here are instantly recognizable and understood. They’re powerful.
I’m pretty sure regular folks have become numb to written wine reviews. You can only hear “aromas of strawberries and sour cherries” so many times before it loses its meaning. Not only are Chateau Petrogasm’s good reviews different enough to cause you to pause, they’re written in the universal language of images. And what I like best about this pair of reviews is that they’re self-referential. Knowing about the first makes the second even better.
I think wine producers and wine marketers should pay pretty close attention to pictorial reviews and what they’re doing at Ch. Petrogasm.
To explain why, let’s take a trip down memory lane.
Some Historical Context: The Evil Cigarette Marketers
There’s a marketing cycle for products, and cigarettes are probably the perfect case study to understand it. When cigarettes were new, the marketing focused on features and enjoyment – how the coffin nails tasted. The pitch focused on direct benefits.
Then, when the people grew tired of hearing about features, they switched to “mechanisms,” or points of differentiation.
Cigarette marketers even tapped into the growing trend of women smoking and did their part to tip the scales, helping make it socially acceptable for women to smoke with the famous line “Blow Some My Way.”
These ads were more focused on image, something for people to identify with, rather than persuasive copy.
Or my favorite:
Yes, the headline reads “Blow In Her Face and She’ll Follow You Anywhere.” Madness.
Finally, they moved to ads without any words at all. Using motivation research, they discovered that by using visual identifications they could say things that would be impossible to effectively convey using copy. They gave us the Marlboro Man.
They made millions. But even this got tired after a while, and the cycle started all over again with direct claims about flavor and satisfaction.
There’s a twist though. After years of seeing the Marlboro Man marketed at them from magazines and billboards, citizen-marketers started to use the Marlboro Man image as a weapon against smoking.
These bits of anti-marketing are the strongest of all. We got as smart as the advertisers.
So, What’s All This Have to Do With Wine?
In a lot of ways the product marketing cycle described above has been done for us (the wine producers) by professional wine reviewers. We’ve got Parker and Wine Spectator pitching wines on taste and the 100 point “mechanism.” We’ve got Allen Meadows focusing on tradition and the terroir angle.
Since we can’t legally talk about the health benefits of red wine (though media reporting helps), we’re left with flavor, terroir and lifestyle. Pictures of vineyards and blurbs from wine reviewers. But people have seen all this before. I need a new way to get their attention, and so do you.
That’s why images like those at Ch. Petrogasm could potentially be so powerful. Strong imagery is easily understandable, and highly marketable. If you get a positive AND creative review from them, it’s like having Leo Burnett working for you, for free. Minus the sleeze.
Check them out. They’re doing some very creative and interesting things and could use your support.