Tag Archives: Paul Masson

Winebits 686: Orson Welles, 7-Eleven, Treasury

orson welles
“”Well, yes, eventually I’ll make a wine commercial that will become infamous.”

This week’s wine news: Orson Welles’ infamous history as a TV wine pitchman, plus Canadian 7-Elevens want to sell wine and turmoil at Big Wine’s Treasury

An anniversary: Blame it on the pandemic, but the blog missed the 40th anniversary of Orson Welles’ infamous Paul Masson wine commercial. Given the WC’s critical eye for the subject, that’s more than surprising. Fortunately, Inside Hook’s Aaron Goldfarb has all the details — including that Welles had done ads for a variety of other booze companies before Masson. The piece is well worth reading, not only for the details of Welles’ behavior, but because, as Goldfarb notes, Welles’ “work with alcohol brands that endures as part of his towering legacy to this day.” And why not? Masson’s sales increased 30 percent during the Welles campaign.

No wine here: A Canadian 7-Eleven wants to sell wine to drink in the store, and its neighbors aren’t happy about it. The CBC reports that neighboring bars and restaurants aren’t happy with the plan, which they fear will cut into their pandemic-bruised sales. Note, too, that “corner store” alcohol sales remain prohibited in the province of Ontario, where the 61 stores are located. This, of course, makes the WC smile — a 7-Eleven in Canada can sell beer and wine to drink in the store, but not to go? And we thought U.S. liquor laws were odd. The company. meanwhile, says the wine and beer service will “complement our fresh food and hot food programs.” So what goes with a plastic wrapped salad?

Treasury woes: Australia’s Treasury Wine Estates, one of the biggest wine companies in the world, may get rid of some its U.S. brands in response to a horrific sales slump thanks to Chinese tariffs. The Aussie business press has been reporting about possible Treasury moves for a couple of weeks as it tries to cope with the Chinese duties. One of the latest plans calls for selling $300 million of U.S. “assets” (though without mentioning band names) and to make more upscale wines in the U.S. ass part of premiumization. Among the company’s California labels are Blossom Hill, Chateau St. Jean, Beringer, and Provenance.

Photo: “03-08-1952_10329A Orson Welles” by IISG is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

TV wine ads: John Gielgud makes a quick buck plugging Paul Masson

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.

Video courtesy of Sean Mc via YouTube

More about TV wine ads:
TV wine ads: Drink Black Tower, invade a foreign country?
Wine business: Watch this beer spot to see how TV wine ads should be done
What was James Mason doing making a Thunderbird TV commercial?