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?

4 thoughts on “TV wine ads: John Gielgud makes a quick buck plugging Paul Masson

  • By AC - Reply

    I see you made a walk-by appearance at :13-:15n on the commercial looking very young and dapper…

  • By John - Reply

    It’s funny ra commercial being critical in that manner would never be made today. Discernment and judgement of quality these days is seen as elite and not acceptable to the main stream culture.

  • By ERIC JOHNSON - Reply

    For a real treat search on the Orson Wells Paul Masson commercials.

  • By John R. Johnson - Reply

    As the co-creator of the Paul Masson commercials featuring Sir John Gielgud nearly 40 years ago, it’s easy to see their shortcomings in retrospect. I would just ask critics to look at those TV spots in context. The Paul Masson spots featuring Orson Welles were genius for their time, but they had become too serious and pompous for a category that was skewing younger. Orson’s performances were being parodied on Saturday Night Live. The smart thing to do was to market the brand as more than just a dinner table beverage and an upscale pop wine. The Gielgud campaign tried to bridge the implicit quality Orson’s persona brought with an increasingly younger, less stuffy demographic. The wine needed a breakthrough personality. Admittedly, the success of “Arthur” and Gielgud’s Supporting Best Actor Academy Award made him the most obvious spokesman for such a campaign. At the time, it seemed like a damn good idea.

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