The beverage business blog from James Wilmore
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Fergie set to see the reddies from wine auction
16 Apr 2014 17:18
As if winning 13 Premier League titles, five FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League twice wasn't enough, it appears Sir Alex Ferguson was also a pretty canny wine collector.
The former Manchester United boss, who famously liked to invite opposition managers for a post-match libation, is selling off a stash of his vintage wines at auction, it was revealed today (16 April). The 5,000 or so bottles are expected to fetch around GBP3m through Christie's.
Around 75% of the collection is reportedly vintages of French Burgundy Domaine de la Romanee-Conti. And according to Christie's international director of wine, David Elswood, the label is "the wine of the moment in terms of demand".
No surprise really that Fergie, as he's affectionately known by some fans, was such a shrewd operator in this field too. Just a shame that some of the current Manchester United squad has not matured in the same way as his fine wine collection.
*Disclaimer: The author of this blog is a Manchester United fan. From the pre-Fergie days mind.
Fooling around on 1 April
01 Apr 2014 17:22
Despite the often cut-throat nature of the drinks industry, it's good to know some companies still have a sense of humour.
And today, 1 April, was the day to indulge that.
Kentucky Bourbon producer Buffalo Trace had some fun with news of its plans to build an open-air whiskey barrel storage 'farm'. A world first, the company claimed, which would see up to 150,000 barrels being stored in outdoor trenches. A press release suggested that a tornado that tore off a warehouse roof, leaving barrels exposed for six months to the elements, had led to some excellent whiskey being produced.
Nice try, guys!
Meanwhile, Diageo did its best to fool folk with news that its rum brand Captain Morgan would be getting a new flavour: 'Taco'.
A press release promised "Mexico's freshest blends of cheddar, jack and Chihuahua cheeses, along with green chilies, perfectly diced tomatoes and succulent beef" as part of the offering. The folk who work on Captain Morgan even took the trouble of making a Vine.
We also had our own fun, as managing editor Olly Wehring revealed details of an astounding discovery: a brick that produces all manner of drinks when left in water.
You couldn't make it up! Well, we did.
Is Shakespeare to blame for binge-drinking?
27 Mar 2014 17:51
Health campaigners have long bemoaned the fact that many forms of popular culture – films, TV, music – glamourise getting drunk.
The other issue, for those with concerns about alcohol consumption levels, is that these mediums rarely show the consequences of over-indulging. England's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, was blowing this particular trumpet today, in her annual report.
“In popular culture, drinking alcohol to excess is sometimes portrayed as ‘normal behaviour,” the report said. “Drunkenness is also commonly depicted without negative consequences in popular films and is frequently mentioned in contemporary popular music.”
But it's not just naughty modern-day musicians and film producers, it's an historic issue, according to Prof Davies.
None other than William Shakespeare was also guilty of such behaviour. “This is not necessarily a problem solely of modern culture: every one of Shakespeare’s plays mentions alcohol, yet there are rather fewer mentions of the negative health consequences of excess consumption,” Davies says in her report.
A new enemy then for the health lobby? History's most irresponsible playwright: Shakespeare.
US senator aims fire at CSDs in TV interview
19 Feb 2014 19:59
Last week we reported on the California senator who is aiming to force soft drinks firms to put health warning labels on “sugary” drinks sold in the state.
Today, Senator Bob Monning has given a hard-hitting interview to US cable TV channel CNBC, explaining his motives by the proposed legislation and claims CSDs are the "leading threat to public health" in the country.
The full interview can be viewed here
Molson Coors' Sochi beer fridge: an idea with legs
12 Feb 2014 23:44
It must be high-fives all round among the marketing team at Molson Coors’ Canada unit.
The company’s beer fridge at the Sochi Olympics, which ingeniously only serves Molson Canadian beer to those athletes with a Canadian passport, via a scanning system, has garnered plenty of headlines - perhaps by some media outlets less inspired by the actual action at the Games.
The Canadian Olympic team helped coverage by tweeting its thanks from the group's official Twitter account.
But it’s not the first time the fridge has appeared. It was used by the brewer in a TV ad last summer, resulting in the second most watched viral video in Canada in 2013, I’m told. “As the video took off we committed to finding real world situations to seed the fridge,” a Molson Coors spokesperson said.
Apparently the chiller is in the athlete’s village for the duration of the Games.
A marketing idea that has legs, I'd say.
A new demographic for drinks firms feeling a bit ruff?
11 Feb 2014 00:44
An exciting new market is fast-emerging for drinks companies.
Thankfully, the demographic is not that discerning and unlikely to voice their opinions on Twitter. Yes... it's dogs.
Yappy Hour Vineyard's brands are apparently going down a storm in Miami's Doggie Bag cafe, according to Time magazine. Varities include "Bark-deaux," "Char-dog-nay," "Grrrr-lot," "Pinot Tail-io" and, for cats partial to the grape, "Mos-cat-o."
You'll be glad to hear the products aren't alcoholic, as it can poison animals.
I'll avoid making a joke about it sounding like a shaggy-dog story... doh!
Campari embraces Fear & Loathing with Wild Turkey tie-up
31 Jan 2014 17:18
Gruppo Campari is taking advantage of the received wisdom that its Bourbon brand, Wild Turkey, was a favourite of the writer Hunter S Thompson.
A stage version of the late hellraiser's seminal novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas made its debut last night in an underground space, The Vaults, near Waterloo, London. Campari has linked up with the show's producers, which include Thompson's friend Lou Stein, to promote the brand as part of a five-week run.
just-drinks was treated to cocktails related to the Fear and Loathing theme while taking in the play. Strangely, though Wild Turkey is mentioned in the book, it did not get a direct reference during the performance. However, John Chancer, who put in an excellent performance as the play's dual-narrator, based on Thompson himself, is seen drinking the Bourbon brand.
Being linked to a work so openly associated with drugs and general debauchery may seem a slightly high-risk strategy, bearing in mind the UK's powerful health lobby, but one that Campari must feel is worth taking.
Sammy Davis Jnr, Bill Murray offer Suntory ad heritage
14 Jan 2014 16:55
Will Suntory's US$16bn move to buy Beam see a change in how the Bourbon producer's brands are advertised?
I, for one, hope the Japanese firm can summon up a bit of its creative spirit from yesteryear and translate this across the Pacific Ocean. This mind-boggingly odd, yet wonderful Suntory ad from 1974, featuring Sammy Davis Jnr, is the kind of thing I'm thinking of:
But also, who could forget Bill Murray's fictional ad for Suntory in the 2003 movie Lost in Translation?
Think on ad bods. Think on.
The just-drinks Weekly Round-Up
13 Jan 2014 11:42
Diageo has been quick out of the blocks this year with the acquisition of high-end Tequila brand DeLeon, in partnership with Sean 'Diddy' Combs. My colleague Olly Wehring noted, however, that the brand is unlikely to be a replacement for Jose Cuervo.
Beam was also on the acquisition trail in the same category, taking co-ownership of 901 Tequila with musician and actor Justin Timberlake.
In beer, Anheuser-Busch InBev confirmed it was saying goodbye to its chief marketing officer in the US. Constellation Brands, meanwhile, continues to benefit from its deal with A-B InBev which saw it take full control of Modelo’s US beer business, Crown Imports.
In wine, a new just-drinks report looked at the challenge the European wine sector will eventually face from China in international markets, as the country’s production levels outweigh domestic consumption.
And CSD producers appear to be in for another bumpy ride this year from anti-obesity campaigners. A new UK-based group - ‘Action on Sugar’ - has been launched aimed at getting companies to cut the amount of sugar in their products by up to 30%.
Are MINTs the new BRICs?
07 Jan 2014 15:38
Move over the BRICs, the MINTs are here to freshen things up.
Yes, we have a fresh batch of countries that are set to emerge as powerhouses of the world economy, if they continue their current trajectory. Jim O'Neill, the economist who coined the acronym BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China), has come up with a new one: the MINTs - that's Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey.
The reason these countries are being talked up, O'Neill says, is because for at least the next 20 years they have good "inner demographics" - which means they'll see an increase in the number of people eligible to work, relative to those not working.
"If Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey get their act together, some of them could match Chinese-style double-digit rates between 2003 and 2008," says O'Neill, writing for the BBC.
Based on Goldman Sachs figures, Nigeria is set to see the biggest lift in GDP, rising from its current position of 39 to 13 by 2050.
Drinks firms are no doubt already on top of these trends. Anheuser-Busch InBev's takeover of Mexico's Grupo Modelo is the obvious example. But Turkey, for example, is far from an easier place for alcohol producers to operate at the moment after a regulatory clampdown last year.
For drinks producers, some of the MINTs may not be as fresh tasting, compared to other industries, for some time yet.
UK-based readers can listen to a BBC Radio 4 series on the MINTs here