April 29, 2006

stormhoek cartoon label


I want to use my cartoons for the new Stormhoek label design, starting later this year.

The plan is not to do typical wine-related messages in the cartoons, but unrelated messages like this or this.

Think about it- you're walking down the aisle in the wine section of the supermarket, and instead of the usual wine-related messages being broadcasted at you from the bottles, you see something more like this, or this. Edgy, random, a conversation starter etc.

Obviously, if you're familiar with my work, you'll understand the story. But methinks it'll work for the "virgins", as well.


[UPDATE: To see the new label designs as they're rolled out, go here.]

Posted by hugh macleod at April 29, 2006 3:42 PM | TrackBack

It's definitely unique. My bet is it works, but do keep us informed one way or another, won't you? :)

Posted by: Brian Clark at April 29, 2006 4:45 PM

Stoermhoek. Ok. Forget a geek-gathering in Germany, there's no way. Is it possible to send just a tiny sixpack for me and my friends? We are those really red-nosed people who would kill for
a really good drop.
Adress: Hen Hermanns, Zur Bockumer Linde 39, D-40489 Duesseldorf, Germany.
If it is any good, we sell it, you bet.

Posted by: MacKnife at April 29, 2006 4:58 PM

I think it's a very good idea.

btw, the "this" and "this" links are the same pic.

Posted by: Michael G. Richard at April 29, 2006 6:09 PM

This is a fascinating idea, Hugh, and I have a good feeling about it. I would love gapingvoid for the cartoons even if you never printed a word of text.

Your idea is fascinating in the same way as the recent, entwined Lincoln and Mercury "webisodes" "Lovely By Surprise" (www.lovelybysurprise.com) and "The Neverything" (www.theneverything.com). They'll be combined into a feature film scheduled to come out this fall, but right now there are a dozen or so 1- to 3-minute excerpted films on each web site -- and not a Lincoln or a Mercury in sight. Every aspect of these productions is so good that they have moved my opinion of Lincoln and Mercury cars from zero (never thought about them in any way) to positive (if they're courageous enough to spend this kind of money just to begin a relationship with me, well, maybe their cars are cool, too.)

We live in a world where almost everything is a disappointment in one way or another. Things that are both excellent and unique are more valuable than ever. Good for you!

Posted by: fibonacci at April 29, 2006 6:37 PM

It reminds me of what Molson Canadian beer does with their "second label" on their beer. It might go over well exposed on the shelf though, unlike the 12 pack of bottles hidden in a box.

Posted by: dawbie at April 29, 2006 7:06 PM

Brilliant! I can imagine walking down the aisle of the store looking at wines...red..red..red..white...white..cartoon..."Oooh! Stop and read the cartoon!" My wife shops for wine by who has the prettiest bottle, so your cartoons and your wit on the bottle would be perfect to grab attention out of the hundreds of wines out there! People would be more apt to display the bottle in their house as a conversation piece too!

Posted by: Dan Robbins at April 29, 2006 7:12 PM

I think that will work well - but only in the right shops...

Posted by: James Cherkoff at April 29, 2006 9:10 PM

Looks great. This will help make the connection between your cartoons and Stormoek. btw, I also noticed that the links to your two examples are the same image.

Posted by: Tim Draayer at April 29, 2006 9:13 PM

Sure it could work, I don't drink, and yet I'd buy one, but just for the novelty.

That's the problem, I remember when the world cup rugby was held in SA, some no-name vinyard came out with a world cup special edition, and quite a few people bought it. Thing is, they bought a novelty wine, and not the wine itself, the idea was cool yet it overshadowed the product.

Sometimes gimmicks can be bad, I'm not saying this will be the case here, but I would be worried that the cartoon would stop people taking the wine seriously, it would be seen as a cool branded bottle of plonk.

Kinda like "death" cigarettes...!

Posted by: Rich...! at April 29, 2006 9:57 PM

" if you’re familiar with my work, you’ll understand"...his humour! the images are of course the same.

Nice idea with that combined product placement. Me i like :-)

Posted by: jke at April 29, 2006 10:00 PM

It's difficult, Hugh. We all know of you as the purveyor of good taste and archetype of geeky gentlemanliness, so we don't think that the gimmick is cheap. The Molson Canadian 2nd labels are a cheap gimmick, though, and the connection is not tenuous.

I think the bit about making them a one-time novelty item is worth considering. Is this a sustainable marketing solution? On the other hand, and Yellow Tail has been mentioned before, if the comics can become a sustainable image, much as the yellow kangaroo has become, then you may well be on to something. It's not as if your humor and your style do not have a disitnguished classiness (it keeps US coming back, after all).

Definitely a good idea to keep away from the product, though. I like the cartoon you posted, but maybe avoid being too sardonic. We are just trying to have a good time, after all.

Posted by: sky at April 29, 2006 10:47 PM

Very cute. Very edge. Very sticky. Will all bottles in a box have the same pic? If yes, it stands to lose its edge.

Posted by: Bobby at April 29, 2006 11:02 PM

My gut feeling is it will work great. It's not a question of standing out on the shelf by yelling but by being unique. One thing that might be an idea is to have the cartoons connected to "reserves", special vintages from Stormhoek and not all the bottles. Now one thing I can see is this being a great selling point for people giving a bottle of wine to someone (parties, Christmas, etc.) - the receiver gets a bottle of wine plus a cartoon.

Posted by: Stephen Chanasyk at April 30, 2006 12:04 AM

Excellent idea Hugh. Not that I know anything at all about the wine market, but I would have to think it would work. It could run the risk of the wine being taken less seriously, but I think that would be minimized by the number of bottles being sold- which I am assuming you are more interested in. If the goal is for the wine to be stored in a cellar for the next few decades, taken out and then consumed by experts, then it might be the wrong label choice. However, if the goal is to get people buying the wine, talking about the wine and then drinking the wine... you've got a winner.

As with all things in marketing, it all depends on your goal.

Posted by: Tim Jackson- Masiguy at April 30, 2006 1:10 AM

The place to test this is in the French market. Ask Loic. If it works there, it will work globally. Better still - ask Jeff Clavier. If you can't get him, I'm pretty sure I'll see him in Zaragossa this next 3 weeks. If not then I'll definitely see Mike Arrington in Zaragossa. Otherwise - gobsmackingly brilliant.

Posted by: Dennis Howlett at April 30, 2006 3:11 AM

Hang on - this is a new business model so - Loic knows M-E LeClerc...he'll have a view. And I forgot James Governor, he's got to have a wacko sock it to them view on this. Dang - this is goooood.

Posted by: Dennis Howlett at April 30, 2006 4:09 AM

Yes, Yes, YES

Send a few bottles to Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA.

We will drink, drink, converse about all types of esoteric BS and be happy!

Posted by: Silvio at April 30, 2006 4:32 AM

I like the idea.


Posted by: nikkirae at April 30, 2006 4:56 AM

Cartoons are capusels of distilled wisdom. Yours throw a glimpse at the wannabe struggling to make it big with all odds and fighting doubts. Somehow there is a connection between wine and wisdom too. Thus at fundamental level your cartoons and Stormhoek click. That is not enough. It has to click at the 'take the winde bottle and put it in the cart' level too. Cartoons that are witty on the face and with depth and wisdom will be big hit here. I guess a good example will be:

But there is a big risk of people visiting the wine section, browse the cartoon bottle by bottle and 'crowd' the section. The store might kill/sabotage the concept just when it warms up. Stores, shelf managers, store staff will have to be bought in on the concpet - Invite them to geek dinner perhaps!

Disclaimer: I don't drink. Leave alone wine, not even coffee/tea. I don't shop.

Posted by: Balaji Sowmyanarayanan at April 30, 2006 8:48 AM

The brackets [stormhoek] - don't forget the brackets - it's a key part of the [yellowtail]label according to the girl from Adelaide who designed it.

At the local [melbourne, australia] liquor barn that label stands out, and by and large Australian wine makers don't mind experimenting with labelling.

One of the local producers, after being berated by a polititian for using labels that weren't "Australian enough" put a top Cabernet under the label "Bullamakanka Red" - they couldn't give it away.

Strange, the relationship between wine consumers and labels.

Fifth Leg wines, with their cartoon logo, sell well. Give it a go, Hugh.

Posted by: Tony Meurer at April 30, 2006 8:54 AM


This is what I suggested to Jason in December. I have no idea why they went for the world's most boring label previous to this.

I look forward to it.

I would even put out series of collectible bottles with various labels...and even the 'adult' ones.


Posted by: Tara 'Miss Rogue' Hunt at April 30, 2006 9:39 AM

thanks for the feedback, y'all. fixed the links =)

Posted by: hugh macleod at April 30, 2006 10:36 AM

Yup, Tara was five months ahead of us :) --- I just gave her a dumb look when she said it :(

Posted by: jason at April 30, 2006 11:48 AM

Labels that talk to you... and can I suggest that you do a series so that, read drinkers like me, will be inclined to keep the empties in a prominent place as a conversation starter.

That would be a perfect lead in to.. and now to my favourite drop of stormhoek..

Just so I cna get ready... who is your stockist (future?? ) in Perth?

Posted by: Wayne Mansfield at April 30, 2006 12:43 PM

creative enough to be good. it may speak for the wine itself..."take a chance"..."be different"..."hip-cool-geeky"..."good enough to not take itself seriously".

rock on.

Posted by: -G.D. at April 30, 2006 5:15 PM

Wayne Mansfield is right and Sky has a seriously good point about "Sardonic" worries.........

If you keep the cartoon specific to the batch/breed (=vintage) then you are not doing the gimmick of Molson and are creating something as unique as the wine. Hopefully the cartoon is noteworthy enough to trigger a memory when one looks at the wine bottle memorabilia - hopefully the wine is similarly noteworthy.

You go hugh. How about a bottle for your commentators? I'd love one.

Posted by: dawbie at April 30, 2006 9:28 PM

This is truly great, Hugh. You've culled an inspired, strong synthesis of reader ideas from last year. And for God's Sweet Sake, please do the bottles in bright opaque colored glass, exactly as you've sketched it. Rock on.

Posted by: Shelley Noble at April 30, 2006 11:59 PM

I think that the people who are worried that the cartoon lables might be gimicky haven't drunk the wine yet. It seems that the wine is good, drinkable, quashable, plonk. Drink now, enjoy, good at the price and the price is good. The label idea sounds great, but regarding the competition does this mean Miss Roque wins?

My other thought at this stage concerns the fact that every time I am in Tescos and walk down the wine aisle I can't find Stormhoek. Tescos is the largest liquor and wine retailer in the country, so I assume you are addressing that problem?

Posted by: bbm at May 1, 2006 1:24 PM

I think it's an excellent idea. I think it will generate word-of-mouth, particulary because - as Mr. mansfield noted - some people will go so far as to hold onto emties and display them. I would encourage you to consider to put the cartoon label idea to use on all Stormhoek vintages instead of just limited edition "reserves" as some suggested because it will become universally identified with the brand.

If the wine is good, and let's assume it is (as I have not had the opportunity to partake of it), then customers will seek it out again with or without label, but they will look for the cartoon. It will create an easy way to remember "that great wine we had last Friday" until the name recognition is firmly in place.

I don't think your cartoons threaten Stormhoek's ability to be taken seriously as they are sharp and spare. Personally I would try to focus on using the sardonic without veering into using any that might be construed by some consumers as depressing. I think it's brilliant.

... and want to know when I can get my hands on a bottle.

Posted by: Marisa at May 1, 2006 2:05 PM

Interesting approach, and smart way to esnure that as Stormhoek grows, so grows Hugh MacLeod. If nothing else, it should serve the same purpose as a Jones Soda label: cut past the name of the product, which is pointless, and remind people of the image. Only in this case, the images are all produced by the same person, ensuring some kind of brand gets created.

Posted by: Justin Kownacki at May 1, 2006 9:05 PM

I think it's a great idea, I'd love it, but If I were the wine producer (I don't know if you are) I would like to choose among like 20 cartoons, cause any random cartoon might be interpreted as a subliminal message. I like all the cartoons you proposed in this post, but for different (subliminal) reasons I wouldn't choose any.
(I'm sorry: my English is bad, but I'm Italian)

Posted by: rosalucsemburg at May 1, 2006 11:33 PM

If you can make your product stand out to the consumer, then a good portion of your work is already done. If they don't notice it in the first place...

Randomness is an interesting idea particularly for something like wine that is highly traditional and tends not to stray too far from the predicatable. Definitely worth a shot IMO :D Good luck.

Posted by: tania, rogue connect at May 2, 2006 5:22 AM

i like the idea of a non-wine-related message. i make a very small amount of pinot noir and have used drawings of baseball players on some of my labels just because i liked the artwork.
i think that if the wine is good, you can do what you like. of course, i am also not fighting for shelf space because of my size.

Posted by: peggy at May 2, 2006 9:58 AM

But it's your brain that makes a relation, in spite of the randomness! In all the cartoons Hughes showed in the post I could imagine a relation.
Should be a seeming randomness, IMHO.

Posted by: rosalucsemburg at May 2, 2006 7:52 PM

I think it's a great idea. Quirky and unique... the wine crowd would love it.

Posted by: mojotek at May 2, 2006 8:58 PM

Distinctive I agree, though they may have to be a little more life affirming than the ones that suggest this is the bottle to drink yourself to death with as you have no friends and no sex life....

Posted by: Dr Snowboard at May 3, 2006 8:11 AM

There has been something in the press lately about Château Mouton Rothschild who have been labelling each year's wine with a different label since 1946, produced by a famous artist of the day.

Posted by: bbm at May 6, 2006 6:36 PM

Well done!
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Posted by: Glen at May 12, 2006 1:51 AM