The beverage business blog from Olly Wehring
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The Spin Bin - October 2010
02 Nov 2010 13:11
In the first of a series of monthly visits to 'Press Release-Land', just-drinks is proud to bring you the best - and worst - of October's spin.
“The meaning of sexy is subjective and very open to interpretation. Our new ads are suggestive, asking consumers to look beneath the surface of the graphics and interpret what Skyy sexy is for themselves.” - Skyy Spirits.
"Unwilling to add just another cherry vodka to the market, Stoli spent years refining and perfecting their recipe to offer a flavor profile that perfectly balances sweet and tart, a spirit with a rich cherry aroma perfumed with aromatic hints of vanilla. On the palate, Stoli Wild Cherri delivers a bright and juicy hit, a full, fleshy cherry taste accented with touches of red plum and a pleasing piquant tartness." - Stolichnaya.
“We’ve been telling beer drinkers to ‘man up’ and order a light beer with great taste. We decided to follow our own advice and ‘man up’ when it comes to Miller Lite’s involvement with soccer." - Miller Coors.
"We would encourage the trade to stock up with Wolf Blass in anticipation of the sales drive this campaign will create." - Wolf Blass.
"The “sneak première” of Absolut Watkins was staged at legendary Villa L’Abri in Cannes during the TFWA World Exhibition at an extravagant party for trade press and VIPs, complete with set designs and extras employed to add an out-of-the-ordinary sense of the timeless glamour of classic luxury travel ... . Absolut Watkins was received with great delight and enthusiasm by the invited audience." - Absolut.
“We are extremely excited about the new global campaign. In Havana, people remain true to themselves and appreciate the simplicity of human interaction in every day life. ‘Nothing Compares to Havana’ sums up this refreshing attitude and by highlighting the informality, passion and generosity of the city, reiterates Havana Club’s authentic Cuban heritage.” - Havana Club International.
"Christmas is a time when you are allowed to relax and step away from all the rush and bustle of normal life, to shut the door and sit by the fire. It does not have to be a continuation of non-stop chores and everyday routines like the rest of the year. For a well-earned moment of calm this Christmas, why not put your feet up and unwind with the perfect Christmas tipple - a warming glass of smooth, full flavoured Three Barrels brandy." - Three Barrels.
"The Guinness team will be able to talk to rugby’s passionate fan-base and remind them that the most memorable times watching rugby are when you are with your friends whether that is at the match, down the pub or at home." Diageo.
“After distillation, Zacapa undergoes an amazing journey from the volcano-shadowed lowlands to the head of a valley 2,300m above sea level where the cooler altitude in its ‘House Above the Clouds’ enables Zacapa to acquire its true and highly-rated aroma, unique qualities and signature taste profile.” - Diageo Korea.
Going Four Loko - Must... Pass... Out
27 Oct 2010 17:28
You may have seen our story earlier today about claims out of the US this week that Phusion Projekts' Four Loko brand has hospitalised nine students who drank the stuff.
We heard about the hospitalisation from CNN - you can see their original report here.
I highly recommend you watch it through to the very end, because the last line of the news piece really is the story of my - and possibly your? - life.
TFWA World Exhibition - Day Two
20 Oct 2010 11:01
After Monday's gentle breaking in, the Tuesday is traditionally the day when the TFWA really starts to buzz. That was certainly the case for me.
Yesterday was a day of meetings, starting with a coffee with Alex Mervart from juice and purée producer Funkin. Alex is here to push Funkin's pouches to airports, while also hunting for spirits firms to tie-up with. The company has already partnered with the likes of Beam Global and Bacardi, with the co-branding of its cocktail mixers. More, please, asks Alex.
Then, to Patrón's stand to catch up with COO John McDonnell. I usually meet up with John once a year when he comes over to London, and I'm always impressed with his bullish approach to the industry. Yesterday was no exception, as you can hear for yourself.
A trek along La Croisette to the Hotel Martinez followed, to meet up with Solomon and Joshua Ani. The father/son combo have set up an import company for the Diamond Standard vodka brand, and are on the hunt for distributors. So, if you're looking for a EUR145 (US$200) per bottle vodka to sell to your high-end clients, give them a shout. And, no, they didn't give me a bottle.
Come sunset, come party. Firstly, William Grant & Sons hosted a drinks reception on a boat moored in the harbour to show off Glenfiddich 19-year-old. I have moments when I enjoy my job so much that I have to pinch myself – sunset on a boat (and what a boat - even the TV was huge), in Cannes, with a dram of single malt was one of those times.
Back to reality, of a sort, and off to the Carlton hotel for Pernod Ricard's annual dinner. As ever, it was good to catch up with several folk I hadn't seen for quite a while, and fun to put the head of Pernod's travel retail unit in the Americas on the spot.
It's been all go.
TFWA World Exhibition - Day One
19 Oct 2010 08:57
The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes opened its doors yesterday morning (18 October) for the first day of the TFWA World Exhibition. The sun and the sea looked pretty inviting after leaving London in the dark, but it's in the halls of the Palais that the bulk of my time here will be spent.
The exhibition areas looked very lively for the first day, and it will be interesting to see if the pace keeps up during the busiest periods, today and tomorrow. The atmosphere was upbeat but, again, let's see if that was novelty or substance as the week goes on.
The evening kicked off with a tutored tasting of Diageo's Johnnie Walker Double Black by global brand ambassador, Jonathan Driver - one of the gentlemen of our industry. Afterwards, I was introduced to Jane Ewing, who has been managing director of Diageo's Global Travel and Middle East division for barely three months. Jane's promised me a few moments of her time later today, so drop me an email for any questions you may have for her.
Then, on to the Absolut party for the launch of Absolut Watkins. Cue, cocktails by the pool and synchronised swimmers.
Welcome to Cannes.
Postcard from Orkney, with Highland Park
15 Oct 2010 01:13
I've just got home from a memorable two days on the northern Scottish island of Orkney, as a guest of Edrington Group's Highland Park single malt brand. Not only was it my first trip to the islands – located seven miles north of the Scottish mainland - it was also the furthest north I've been in the British Isles.
The journey up was certainly part of the adventure – I can heartily recommend the Caledonian Sleeper train, which leaves London at 2350 and arrives at Edinburgh Waverley at 0730 the next morning. I slept like a baby in my cabin as the train headed north, and was woken by breakfast and the morning's Scotsman (it's a newspaper, potty-mind).
An hour-long flight from Edinburgh took us to Kirkwall, the main town on the island of Orkney, population: 20,000. From the airport, our local guide, Jim, took us on a tour of the Scapa Flow area of the island – one for the World War I and II buffs. A quick lunch was followed by the obligatory distillery tour, which took in the malting rooms and peat-fired burners for Highland Park. Orkney is home to two distilleries, the other being Pernod Ricard's Scapa, barely a stone's-throw from Highland Park.
In the evening, we boarded a boat and sped across the Bay of Kirkwall to the island of Shapinsay – a white-water trip of 30 minutes in the dark, which raised the proximity of the elements to concern-creating levels. An informal, rustic dinner in a locally-run restaurant included seafood, steak, darts and Highland Park. Time was called at gone midnight, and we headed back to the main island with a bottle of cask strength being passed around on deck.
Not responsible drinking, I concede.
The next day, we continued with the tour of the island – lochs, seals, curlews, neolithic stones, St Magnus' Cathedral and the rocky coast of Yesnaby (next stop, Canada). And, of course, a dram to ward off the wind.
With thanks to Susie Davidson, Matt Turner, Gerry Tosh, Ken Grier and the Orcadians of Highland Park. I'll be back.
NB: The trip was made all the more evocative by the 71st anniversary of the sinking of the Royal Oak, with the loss of 833 souls, at Scapa Flow by a German U-boat.
Some dirt, yesterday
23 Sep 2010 13:32
Now, I'd appreciate it if you didn't guffaw or conclude that today is a slow news day, because, respectively, it's not funny, and it isn't. But, yes, this is a picture of a pile of dirt.
One of the more curious press releases I have received arrived overnight, from California. It turns out that this soil comes from some of the vineyards of Napa which border the Napa River in the Rutherford American Viticultural Area.
The Rutherford Dust Society (of course!) is looking to restore the natural flow of the river, the banks of which have been steeply eroded of late. Subsequently, six landowners, including the David Guggenhime family. the Quintessa Estate, the Ranch Winery, Frog’s Leap, Caymus, and Carpy-Conolly Ranch, have rededicated seven acres of vineyard to the river corridor worth US$2.1m.
“This must be the most valuable dirt in America,” said project coordinator Gretchen Hayes in the statement. “It is truly a mountain of Rutherford Dust, and the greatest wines in America are grown in this coveted red soil.”
Let me know if you'd like some and I'll put you in touch.
Concha y Toro - Sing When You're Wining
20 Sep 2010 15:31
Readers are advised that the content of and opinion voiced in this blog belong to Dean Best and not myself. Dean is a Manchester United supporter. I am not.
A glass of wine can be the perfect accompaniment to times when we enjoy food, socialise or unwind. For one member of the just-drinks family this weekend, wine presented the opportunity to be a grade A fanboy.
Oxford Dictionaries describes a fanboy thus: "A male fan, especially one who is obsessive about comics, music, film, or science fiction."
To that, millions of us would add "football". Within that, some of us would add "Manchester United" (The cue for half of our readers to tut and click to another page).
For someone who watched their first United game in 1988 as a seven-year-old, this weekend was pretty special. Chilean wine giant Concha y Toro is one of a series United's corporate "partners" and, to mark the formal start of the association between the two sides, the company hosted a three-day event to which they invited members of the international press - including your correspondent.
Over the weekend, we the press were able to see behind the scenes at Old Trafford, meet United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and players including Ryan Giggs, and, taste some of Concha y Toro's wine stable in a tasting hosted by head winemaker Marcelo Papa.
Among the weekend's highlights for me, being able to spend five minutes in the company of Sir Bobby Charlton and to chat with him about the rivalry between United and their opponents yesterday, Liverpool, was particularly special.
Concha y Toro's management and representatives, including chairman Alfonso Lorrain and global marketing manager Giancarlo Bianchetti, enjoyed their trip to Manchester, which coincided with the 200th anniversary of Chile's independence.
The club marked the anniversary when, on a tour around the ground on Saturday, the Chilean national anthem was played over the tannoy system at Old Trafford - with United mascot Fred The Red standing proud and wearing a Chilean flag across his shoulders.
And, as if by magic, just as United's first goal hit the back of the net in the first half yesterday, the electronic advertising hoardings that border three sides of the pitch at Old Trafford (obviously the three sides picked up by the TV cameras) turned to say "Concha y Toro wines".
Cue much delight among the Concha y Toro team that its ad would be picked up on TV replays around the world.
And that, when all is said and done, is what the "partnership" between United and Concha y Toro is all about for the Chilean wine group.
The Casillero del Diablo maker is hoping that United's global name can help it build its presence in key markets, most notably Asia.
Next week, just-drinks will carry a full-length interview with global marketing manager Bianchetti, a piece that will cover his thoughts on the sponsorship, on broader industry issues around foreign currency volatility, discounting and the downturn - and, notably, Concha y Toro's belief that beverage alcohol brands can associate with sport.
For now, the just-drinks' fanboy will bask in the glow of the weekend when he met Sir Alex and Sir Bobby.
Scotland's Getting Silly
15 Sep 2010 17:19
We've been pretty thorough in our monitoring of the twists and turns within Scottish politics of late, as the people's elected representatives have talked and talked and talked about how to deal with the country's relationship with alcohol.
The latest twist, however, has had me rolling my eyes for most of today.
According to a Daily Telegraph report, SNP backbencher Ian McKee has proposed that buying alcohol on supermarket loyalty cards or as part of a 'meal deal' be banned in the country.
It's all starting to get a bit silly now up there.
Do alcohol abusers actually use supermarket loyalty cards? And, surely, having food with alcohol slows the effect - something alcoholics would steer well away from.
In a way, though, it's actually good that the price argument has gone to this extreme, if only to highlight just how insulting it is to the intelligence of consumers to use price to slow consumption. And if you disagree with that, then how about looking to improve the intelligence of consumers, so that they can be insulted by this harebrained suggestion?
Sympathy for the Multi-National
09 Sep 2010 17:06
The temptation to side with big business has always been one that I've found pretty easy to resist. Stick it to the man, has been my mantra since student days – albeit more quietly these days (right, corporate subscribers?).
But, it's hard not to sympathise – if that's the word – with the multinationals of this world, when I read of India's decision to slap Vodafone with a US$2.6bn charge. The mobile 'phone giant was told by the High Court in Mumbai this week that it is liable for the charge after it acquired local operator Hutchison Essar three years ago.
Vodafone's defence has been that the transaction is not subject to the country's tax rules, because it took place in the Cayman Islands via a string of holding companies. This defence has cut no cloth with the High Court, though.
The aftershocks of the ruling pricked memories of the rumblings last summer, when Diageo had to tread very gingerly in Scotland, for fear of provoking the ire of politicians in the country.
Last year, the challenge laid at Scotland's door was that it was not a friend of big business. “What incentive is there to operate in a country that reacts like that?” was a question I was asked (rhetorically, thankfully) a year ago.
So, India, could you provide me with an answer, please?
What incentive is there to operate in a country that reacts like that?
Pedicab, (Cono) Sur?
06 Sep 2010 17:41
Here in London, we're in the grip of another transport strike, with action by RMT and TSSA union members affecting underground services in the capital today and tomorrow.
Pity Wines of Chile, then, whose tasting this coming Wednesday (8 September) could suffer from the knock-on effects of the industrial action.
How's that for timing?
Help is at hand, though. Vina Concho y Toro's Cono Sur wine brand is laying on pedicabs free of charge, to take visitors from Victoria overland train station to the tasting at the Royal Horticultural Society.
No doubt, this is a nice touch. Even if Victoria is also the nearest underground station to the Royal Horticultural Society anyway.
If you'd like to take advantage of Cono Sur's offer, email email@example.com or call Lucy Richardson on 07584 474293.