Ban on wine advertising

Emile Joubert’s entertaining and insightful Wine Goggle blog discussed the long-pending (and seemingly imminent) ban on alcohol advertising in South Africa. (Read his post here.) There’s one point were I differ in opinion and one which should be discussed further as the wine industry players clarify their opinions on advertising.

The strength of paid traditional advertising in an increasingly brand-aware society is not in swaying a disinterested consumer towards a new product category, but rather to influence within the product range. This is nothing new. So if you are looking to buy a car, you are likely to be influenced by Volkswagen or Toyota’s advertising or third-party endorsements. But if you have no interest in buying a car, advertising is unlikely to get you to do so.

So to transfer that to the alcohol advertising debate. There is good research to show that within the wine category, consumers view red wine as literally a different drink to white wine or to rosé, altogether. These were presented by Wine Intelligence at the LIWTF earlier this year. Many newer wine drinkers consider drinking white wine and then moving to red to be ‘mixing their drinks’. It follows, therefore, that different forms of alcohol are seen as different product categories. So it it is not accurate to say that the huge budgets of spirit and beer brands would be a large influencer in the reducing rate of wine consumption in South Africa. This advertising has not lured wine drinkers away. Someone who was looking for a case of beers is not going to suddenly decide to grab a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc because they saw an advert in the You magazine. Of course there will be some exceptions, and the debate around new entrants to the booze market can come into it.

I don’t like it when bloggers say “in my opinion”, but in my opinion, traditional advertising for wine simply doesn’t work aside from when it is coupled with large scale affiliations. It’s a waste of money for most South African wineries and I would hope that the lack of wine brand presence in major publications is partly due to the recognition of this fact by wine marketers, and not only due to the high costs.

I agree with Emile that the likely ban on alcohol advertising should been seen as an opportunity for local wineries to get creative and use their resources more innovatively. High margin spirits and multinational brewers will be doing so, but they don’t have the stories and the heritage to back it up.

Most wineries do.

2 Responses to “Ban on wine advertising”

  1. Emile says:

    Hi Chris
    As a gullible consumer, I tend to believe in the influence of advertising. I can’t remember how many times I quit smoking in school, only to light-up every time a new, sexier cigarette advertisement hit the movie screen! Interesting statement about wine advertising not working at all. Could that be why Gallo is not advertising its products that have hit the South African market? And I will definitely quote this post when next I get called by a pesky magazine rep trying to sell advertising space!

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Emile,
    I agree that people who claim advertising does not influence them are in denial. But you didn’t start smoking a soft drink, or a footwear brand (I hope). That’s my point, it has sway within the group of consumers already looking for that product. What you say about Gallo is interesting, as you’d think that only companies with their sorts of budgets could make advertising effective. Obviously I am not in SA at the moment, so I would like to hear about how their move into the market is being communicated. I think that part of the problem with the effectiveness of wine adverts in print and traditional media is that they have all tended to look the same – vineyards, barrels, manor houses, bottles and perhaps a smiling person. Too product focused and not enough real brand building perhaps?