It could happen!
I read with interest the press release put out last week by my friend and fellow wine blogger, Tom Wark, about his scheme to monetize his blog. Briefly, as I understand it (and there are many levels of this that have yet to be analyzed), wineries will send Tom baseball caps with their logos, and then Tom will make videos for each winery, where he wears the winery’s cap and plugs them.
I’m stunned that no one thought of this before. Here we are, years into the wine blogging phenomenon, with scores of bloggers putting their collective intelligence into figuring out how to make money, and lo and behold, Tom, in one swift, brilliant stroke, has solved the problem! But it’s the least one would expect from this pioneering guy.
Admittedly, Tom actually devised only one way of making money — by selling his collection of caps to the Smithsonian Institution. I’m sure he could make a vast profit — the Smithsonian is funded by the Federal government, after all — but the problem is that the money wouldn’t come in for many years. So the scheme really won’t help Tom in the short run.
In pondering Tom’s CAPitalization plan, I thought of implications that may have eluded him. I freely share the possibilities opened up by this revolutionary new development.
1. Tom should charge the wineries money for giving them publicity in the videos. Of course, he’d have to do this surreptitiously, because otherwise all those investigative bloggers out there would bust him for “selling out.” But this shouldn’t be difficult. What happens in wine country stays in wine country.
2. Tom could move beyond caps to other articles: T-shirts, designer sneakers, jeans, underwear, sportswear, sunglasses, suits, ties, swimwear, evening gowns, even rubber ducks. The list is endless. Automobiles? DVDs? Golf clubs? Think of all the free stuff!
3. Once Tom compiles a huge collection of clothes and accessories, he can develop his own line of WarkWear. He could sell it on QVC and perhaps even team up with Joan Rivers. Fashion-savvy consumeristas who are into wine would find his Spring and Fall collections irresistable.
4. As Tom achieves worldwide fame as a couturier, he would need P.R. bloggers (proggers; see “Hardy Wallace”) to help him do publicity. He could have a contest to pick the winners. He could call this contest “A Really Good Gob.” This would give other bloggers hope that there’s actually some money to be made at the end of the rainbow.
5. But sooner or later, someone is bound to reveal the fact that Tom had been taking money for his cap videos. This would of course destroy his credibility as a blogger forever, but by the time it happened, Tom would be so rich, he’d be able to flip off his critics and laugh at them as he sailed off on his private yacht to his various villas in fashionable spots around the world.
6. Upon winning a MacArthur grant, Tom — now easily the most famous wine person on Earth except for President Franzia — would forgive all those bloggers who had been criticizing him so heavily for so many years. He would invite them to his ranch (located probably in the Russian River Valley) for a giant Kumbaya singalong.
7. President Franzia appoints Tom Secretary of Social Media. Tom, now holding infinite power over Twitter, Facebook et al, and funded by a multi-billion dollar budget, hires all his blogger friends for sub-Cabinet jobs. He holds auditions in San Francisco, New York, etc. and the applicants line up and down the street.
8. By then, of course (I estimate all this to happen around 2018), a whole new generation of younger Tween wine bloggers has arisen. They see the founding generation of bloggers selling out to “The Man” by taking high-paying jobs (with generous healthcare and retirement benefits), and they criticize these elders mercilessly.
9. Meanwhile, the older generation of Baby Boomer print critics has retired to “Geezer Island,” a tropical paradise in the Caribbean funded by President Franzia to honor all those wine reviewers who helped make Two Buck Chuck successful. Twice each day, air cargo planes parachute pallets of Bronco Wine onto the island so nobody goes thirsty. President Franzia makes Geezer Island off-limits to the healthcare death squads, the only place in the world they’re not allowed to go.
10. President Franzia is stricken by a rare disease and forced to quit office. Under the new Nested Succession laws (passed by the TTB in 2015), Tom becomes President of the United States of America. His money and girlfriend woes are gone forever.
11. President Wark’s first executive order is to eliminate all bottlenecks to the free interstate shipping of wine throughout the United States and its territories. A place is prepared on Mount Rushmore to carve his image. The drinking age is lowered to 18, and all is well.
And it all started with baseball caps! It could happen…