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What a beer company can teach wineries about videos



I buy a lot of wine direct from wineries. The best and fastest way to do this is through their website. Those shopping carts and “Place Order” buttons make life a lot easier. But I do have a gripe. If your shipping address is different from your billing address, why do you have to enter your birth date for both? If someone can explain that to me, I’ll give you free lifetime subscription to

Some wineries apparently haven’t caught up to the 21st century, though. They list their wines on their websites—but still make you call the tasting room to order the old-fashioned way, through a person. I just did this the other day and it took about 15 minutes for a single bottle. The person kept asking me to spell my name, to give my phone number again, etc. etc., and then I kept hearing her talk to herself, saying stuff like “Hmm, this isn’t working right, just give me a second.” And this wasn’t some mom-and-pop winery in the boondocks but a major winery owned by an international corporation. What’s up with that? So Nineties.

Then there are the wineries that don’t let you order their wines at all unless you’re a club member. Their websites are the digital equivalent of a doormat that says “Go Away, and Don’t Bother Us, Ever Again!” You can’t even sign up to be a club member, you have to email them and hope someone will get back to you. I suppose this is done to make their wines appear exclusive—but it’s very snobby.

Winery websites should be places people want to go to and hang out for a little while. They shouldn’t make you feel anything negative. Along those lines, the drinksbusiness reported yesterday that Miller Lite beer apparently is “lost…again,” a reference to their “distributors [being] agitated” because the brand is “sick.” So Miller Lite’s parent company, MillerCoors, is looking for a “new breakthrough ad campaign.”

Well, that’s very strange, because on the same day (yesterday) I got a report from the latest Nielsen data (sorry, no link) that MillerCoors volume overall is down in the last 12 weeks, year over year; but Miller Lite volume grew by +1.5% y/y in the period.” !!! That would indicate that Miller Lite is not sick and may be carrying the company’s other SKUs! Anyway, I went to Miller Lite’s website to see if there’s anything sick about it, and I have to say, their videos are great. I watched all 15 of them and loved the ones that take place in the grocery store. (The Troy Aikman video is classic.) I realize that making videos costs money and not all wineries can afford it; but Miller Lite’s are SO much more creative and entertaining than the typical winery video that has a winemaker or owner giving some boring spiel about terroir and passion. (The Miller ones that show the closeups of golden brew and the brewmaster, Dr. Ryder, are not as interesting.)

Wineries tend to be overly timid in their approach to videos. So many of them are cut from the same mold: boring, predictable, with string quartets trying to get a classy feel. I think some winery owners are conservative and live in a bubble where they think because they’re making videos they think are classy, everybody else will be fascinated by them. Sorry, that’s not how it works. The Miller Lite videos should be object lessons for how to capture the consumer’s attention. And just because they’re funny doesn’t mean that a “serious” brand can’t use humor and human interest. I love that the people in the Miller Lite videos are “real.” Of course, they’re actors, but they look and sound real, and the store looks like the sort of place I’d buy something from—not Premier Cru!

And that’s what we want to see on the Internet, isn’t it? Real people, like us, not talking heads who sound like they’re reading from a teleprompter.

  1. The issue I have with ordering wine direct from wineries instead of purchasing at the store is the extremely high shipping cost. Say you are on the “exclusive ” mailing list and you have the opportunity to purchase the wine upon its release– you are charged dearly for that opportunity. If I want to buy a $23 bottle of wine, I have to double that price to add the shipping. It is a lot cheaper even with a mark up to buy at my local wine store when the store receives its allotment. I don’t care how nice the winery’s website is–the shipping costs have made direct ordering an unattractive option.

  2. Susan, you’re right. Sometimes the cost of shipping can almost double the retail price. That is a real problem for most people.

  3. A great many wineries don’t store the notes or tech sheets for previous vintages; they show only their current releases. This is a pet peeve of mine. Would not be difficult to remedy with a tab someplace.

  4. The person paying for the wine must be 21 or older and the shipping address recipient must be 21 or older and those two people may be different people, hence, birth dates in each place.

  5. David, that occurred to me. But if the shipping address is a business, you don’t know who’s going to receive and sign for the package. I have my wines sent to the UPS Store, and I have no idea who’s working on any given day, much less what their birthday is! The whole thing is just a CYA protection against getting sued.

  6. Patrick, that is indeed one of my peeves too!

  7. As a video producer who made nearly 50 films for Apple, I can only agree. Wine marketing videos are pathetic – there’s room for so much improvement. There are great stories to tell about wine. Animations have also been used, which, for an industry so into its labels, are another way to tell a story using illustration. (See, run by Kia Simon, who has done animations for major labels – I have worked with her on marketing animations I have produced for non wine clients.)

    If you are a winery and you want to talk about making videos that make your brand amazing, get in touch. (WineCountryGeographic at Don’t you want to be as memorable as the movie Somm, the series Uncorked, or Hugh Johnson’s fabulous PBS series on wine? It can be done.

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