This 1984 King Solomon wine commercial knows what it’s about: “33 percent more wine than the regular size”
The Wine Curmudgeon’s TV wine ad survey has found the good (very little), the bad (almost all) and now this — a 1984 spot on a local Philadelphia station for something called King Solomon wine.
This ad is odd, and not just because of its content. For one thing, Pennsylvania was a control state (and still mostly is), so the only place to buy King Solomon wine would have been a state store. And, given this is a concord wine sold because it’s cheap, it’s difficult to believe a state store would have carried it. Apparently, the company that marketed it was well known in Philadelphia, producing a variety of off-brand spirits and wines. so maybe it had some clout with the state.
The other thing I can’t figure out: What does a genie have to do with the Biblical King Solomon?
Still, the ad is on message: The wine is cheap, there’s a lot of it, and it will get you drunk — “a big, bold, two-fisted wine.” How many other TV wine ads actually say what they mean?
Get ready for the WC’s holiday wine video later this month
We tried another tack on wine videos this week in New York, and everyone seems hopeful that it will do what our first attempt in the spring didn’t do. That is, find a way to make a wine video that people will enjoy watching.
I recorded the video with Michael Sansolo as part of the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association Store Brands USA series; his show is “Shopping with Michael.” Michael asked questions, I answered, and all seemed to go well. I even opened a bottle of sparkling wine on camera with nary a misstep.
The video should go up later this month, and I’ll update this post with the link. And it’s live — Holiday wine tips.
Full disclosure: I’m doing some consulting for the private label trade group in its quest to convince U.S. retailers to step up their store brand wine effort. Because, of course, Winking Owl.
As such, I spent a couple of days on the wine beat in New York City:
• Hotel wine prices continue to astound me. How about $56 for a bottle of $8 Chateau Ste. Michelle riesling? That seems a bit much, even for mid-town Manhattan.
• It’s always weird to walk through a New York City supermarket, and especially a well respected one in an upscale area near the UN, and not see wine for sale. But that’s our old pal the three-tier system at work. Wine shops can’t sell potato chips in New York state, and supermarkets can’t sell wine.
• We spent a lot of time talking about wine on the set, even when we weren’t shooting the video (and not to worry – “on the set” is about the only video/film jargon that I know). That’s because, as someone said, “Wine is so confusing.” It was a great joy to open a bottle of $2.99 wine for several people and explain why it cost $2.99 and why it tasted that way. In fact, one reason the PLMA wants to do the wine videos is to help supermarket shoppers who are baffled by the Great Wall of Wine.
• Welcome to the 21st century: A bomb-sniffing dog checks out your luggage when you check into the Hilton near the UN.
This early 1980s John Gielgud Paul Masson TV commercial is no “Arthur”
Did John Gielgud see a chance to play off his Oscar-winning role in “Arthur” and make a ton of money for very little work? Because, otherwise, there’s very little that makes sense in this early 1980s commercial for Paul Masson.
It’s not especially funny — ridiculing modern art was tired and old even then. And, as wine marketing guru Paul Tinknell has discussed on the blog, it makes the same mistake most TV wine ads do: It doesn’t focus on those of us who actually drink wine, but tries to make wine something that it isn’t. Most of us drink wine with dinner. Most of us don’t drink wine at art openings; in fact, most of us don’t even go to art openings.
The other oddity here? The wine business’ use of noted Shakespearean actors like Gielgud and James Mason for TV commercials through the mid-1980s. It’s probably an attempt — a very weak attempt — to make ordinary wine seem more high end. All it does, of course, iPauls make it look silly.
Corman’s horror films, often starring Price and based on Poe stories, are the stuff of cult legend (and a tip o’ the WC’s fedora to my old pal and video guru Lee Murray for introducing me to Corman all those years ago). The story in the link does a fine job of outlining Corman’s career. For our purposes, it’s enough to know that Corman, Matheson, Lorre, and Price take a tired and cliched scene and turn it into something better than it should be. Lorre makes a wine tasting face at Price at about the four minute mark that is priceless.
“The problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in a world where the three-tier system runs everything”
Maybe the reason the wine world is in such turmoil — flat growth, too high prices, too much crummy wine — is because we don’t have the right person to help us in our quest for better wine: Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca.” So the Wine Curmudgeon worked a little editing magic with one of the most famous scenes in cinema history.
My apologies to Bogart, Claude Rains, and Ingrid Bergman; director Michael Curtiz; and the Epstein brothers and Howard Koch, who shared screenplay credit for the film. My excuse: In one of my other lives, I wrote a book called “The Casablanca Companion,” so I know much more about this movie than anyone should.
A tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Eagle Burger on YouTube, where I found the original scene. And all foolishness like this owes a debt to WineParody, whose Robert Parker epic is the standard by which these efforts are judged.
Make sure you turn captions on when you watch the video; you can make the captions bigger or change their color by clicking on the settings gear on the lower right.
Aug. 1 update: Production woes. The project is still a project, but we won’t have videos until the holidays.
Is the Wine Curmudgeon going to be the Internet’s next viral sensation? We’ll know early this summer, when the first of two wine videos I made this week goes live.
I did the videos, featuring helpful, useful information about summer wine and restaurant wine, for the Private Label Manufacturer’s Association. The videos are part of the trade group’s quest to convince U.S. retailers to step up their private label wine effort – because, of course, Winking Owl. I’ll post a link when the summer wine video goes live.
The experience was unique. How else would an ink-stained wretch see a process that involves makeup, story conferences, green screens, and long discussions about what I should wear? I haven’t spent that much time worrying about my clothes since since my mother picked them out. I should also mention that I have spent much of my writing career gently mocking – or worse – those of my friends who did have to worry about that stuff. I suppose I will have to endure their gentle – or worse – mocking now.
The goal with each video was to avoid winespeak as well as the deadly dullness that overwhelms most wine videos (even those with big names and big budgets). We wanted to offer information that wine drinkers could use when they were staring at the supermarket Great Wall of Wine. Which I think we did.
A very large tip o’ the WC’s fedora to Sonia Petrocelli, the videos’ producer, and Richard Dandrea, who wrote them. Both made the process infinitely easier than I thought it would be, and their patience with my ignorance of all things video was much appreciated.