When Netflix and The Wine Group launched a wine brand at the start of February, it sold out online within a matter of days.
The brand, Love Is Wine, was made to be “paired” with reality TV show Love Is Blind, the sixth season of which begins on Valentine’s Day.
“We are beyond excited to enhance the experience of enjoying the show by pairing our delicious Chardonnay with one of our favourite TV shows,” Helen Kurtz, Cupcake Vineyards’ chief marketing officer, said at the time.
The bottle is designed to resemble the “unmistakable golden goblets” which – apparently – are a common prop on the show.
The wine – a Chardonnay – is produced by The Wine Group’s California-based Cupcake Vineyards in California and is, according to one marketing expert, a sharp idea.
“My gut feel here is that this is a good idea for the brand,” says wine consultant Joe Fattorini.
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“It’s tightly targeted and they don’t mind that this may put off some customers – they would rather build a more focussed proposition with their target audience.”
Fattorini, who is also host of TV series The Wine Show, adds: “In a sense, this is a ‘celebrity’ brand. Only the celebrity is the show, not an individual. And there’s a context to drinking the wine.
“‘While watching television’ is the second most common use case for wine after ‘with an evening meal’. For an audience who have less familiarity with wine, it makes a lot of sense to link together the product – wine – with a reassuring brand, and the ‘appropriate occasion’.”
Speaking to Just Drinks last month about the potential for wine branding to turn the tide of falling consumption, Fattorini said great brands “hold some sort of meaning” for the audience as well as being a marker of quality.
“What great brands tend to do, is go: I have some sort of meaning for people like you. I’m that sort of person who drinks that kind of wine because it is associated with all these other things that matter to me,” he said.
Love Is Blind follows the escapades of single people who agree to marry each other before they meet face to face. “Over several weeks, the newly engaged couples will move in together, plan their wedding, and find out if their physical connection matches their strong emotional bond developed in the pods,” Netflix says.
It’s fun, it’s silly and it’s a little unusual – a bit like a gold bottle of wine. To be a fan of Love Is Blind you must also, presumably, like the slightly silly, fun things in life.
On a side note, Fattorini divulged the reason the glasses – those unmistakable golden goblets – are opaque. “In the UK there was a minor scandal on Love Island when one of the contestants complained that the way they’d been edited distorted what had happened,” he explained.
“Internet sleuths backed up their case by showing inconsistencies in the levels of wine in their glass showing that events were knitted together out of sequence. This is why all reality TV shows now use opaque wine glasses to make it harder to see edits.”
He added: “The experience of brands on things like Love Island and Big Brother means that the context in which they’re shown will be more ‘curated’.
“Reality TV is wary of setting up the sort of narratives that led to well-publicised mental-health crises among contestants in the past.”
Although sold out online, Love Is Wine is still available to buy in shops in the US. The Wine Group did not respond to Just Drinks when asked if it is considering expanding or continuing the brand.
Perhaps it should – or perhaps the limited-edition nature of the brand was part of its appeal.
Love Is Wine Chardonnay is said to have “notes of creamy butter, apricot, apple and a touch of vanilla”, but it’s fairly unlikely its drinkers will be too bothered about that.
They’re bothered that they can cosy up on the sofa and indulge in trashy TV with a bottle that makes them feel involved in the show – and there lies the genius.
If we want to improve the odds of more people drinking wine, we need more brands to think along the lines of Love Is Wine.