February 12, 2009

dream big. alpine, texas.

[Video: "Skater". Todd Elrod, harmonica player with The Doodlin' Hogwallops. Alpine, Texas.]

More thoughts on "Futile Marketing"...

1. In the last few weeks, with the help of Loren Feldman's trusty video camera, we launched Stormhoek in Alpine, Texas, of all places. As I said earlier:

Re. Wine marketing: Usually, when an imported wine launches in the States, a familiar pattern emerges. Hire New York or SF restaurant for the evening. Organize wine tasting. Try to get the usual freeloaders, PR wannabe's, and random warm bodies to attend. If a C-List celeb somehow turns up by some Miracle of God, become ecstatic. Send Press Release out to the usual suspects in the media. Watch Press Release be utterly disregarded by All & Sundry. Watch absolutely nothing happen afterwards. Witness the entire story disappearing into the dustbin of history within nanoseconds. And so on.

So we at Stormhoek decided to go in the exact opposite direction, as far away from the Usual Suspects as possible. "Hey, let's launch in Alpine, Texas! Let's see if we can get real West Texan cowboys to like South African wine! It's totally insane! It's totally futile! It's totally wrong! Let's do it anyway!"

[The official "Dream Big" t-shirt...]

2. Our campaign tagline is "Dream Big. Alpine, Texas". Inspired by the back label on the Stormhoek bottle, of course.

3. I think you really need to "Dream Big" on some level to live out here in the high Texas desert, 400 miles West of Austin. This is true whether you're working construction, waiting tables, teaching elementary school or launching a wine brand.

4. You may lovee the tagline, you may hate the tagline. Whatever. They seem to like it out here. A lot. That's all that matters.

5. We're just going to concentrate on marketing the wine in Texas for the time being. Trying to do it nationally is just too much work. This country is way too big.

6. We're starting in Alpine, then we'll ripple out. Next is Marfa, Texas, then Marathon, Fort Davis, Terlingua, Presidio, Fort Stockton, San Angelo, Midland-Odessa, Del Rio... If that goes well, we'll get ambitious. Ozona, Sanoma, Junction, Harper, Fredericksberg... We'll keep going till we hit the bigger towns: Houston, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Corpus Christi, El Paso, San Antonio, Amarillo...

7. Texans don't drink a lot of South African Wine. They will by the time I'm done with them.

8. Dream Big. Alpine, Texas. Exactly.


[Update:] Talking about this blog post on Twitter: "I'm either going to make this thing fucking work or die trying." Yes.

Posted by hugh macleod at February 12, 2009 9:34 AM | TrackBack

Where can you buy Stormhoek in Houston? Not at Spec's our big wine shop. Wanted to take a few bottles to Twestival.

Posted by: Sam at February 12, 2009 10:05 AM

cool video! (Loren Feldman)
Houston is gonna love Stormhoek.

Posted by: debora at February 12, 2009 10:21 AM

#6, careful using the word "ripple" when you're marketing good wine :)

Posted by: tj at February 12, 2009 10:30 AM

Do a tweet meet-up in The Woodlands north of Houston. Try to hook-up with these people: http://tinyurl.com/cfm35r

Posted by: Robert Myers at February 12, 2009 11:16 AM

lemme know when you are in abilene (about twice as far away from you as odessa) and i'll be there. heck, i'll help you organize it. my aunt knows 1/2 the town.

Posted by: carlos moreno at February 12, 2009 11:17 AM

Of course that's how Sam Walton started Walmart! Start in the middle of no where and gradually expand away from that.

btw his book Made in America is a real classic - you would love it - especially his tales of visiting NYC on the cheap!

Posted by: Geoff at February 12, 2009 11:43 AM

Hope the Dallas/Fort Worth includes Denton. We like wine.

Posted by: Eric Dyer at February 12, 2009 3:20 PM

In evangelism/outreach, programs work once. There's like an exponential decay. Half as good the 2nd time, then 1/4... So every program has to be different. Lame is OK. True for marketing? You tell me. I don't know anything about marketing. But what's the difference between selling people on ideas (even for free) and other things?

A wine launch in NY isn't news. Maybe it was once.

Posted by: Stephen at February 12, 2009 6:07 PM

In San Angelo, contact the Liz and JR at the Silo (http://www.chickenfarmartcenter.com/Inn_Art_Center.html). Cool, funky little restaurant in the middle of an art center. Coordinate it with the Ceramic Event that happens in April. Couple of independent wine shops there as well.

And the town next to Ozona is Sonora, not Sanoma.

Posted by: Susan Crippin at February 12, 2009 6:17 PM

Well done.

I've long thought that an enterprising fellow could sell Australian (or South African) wine in the US southwest by drawing the obvious link between groups of fairly rugged people who work hard to make an honest product. Once you get past the hurdle of local perceptions (that wine is a sweet fizzy Italian concoction used by teenage seductionists, or the lubricant of choice for homosexual orgies in California and Florida), I think you'll be away. Talk about an untapped market.

Written with a glass of Tim Knappstein's hand-picked Clare Valley riesling in hand.

As you've said many a time: rock on!

Posted by: MHG at February 13, 2009 1:46 AM

Can we liberal non-Texans in Massachusetts ever expect to see some of this wine?

Posted by: Kaygie at February 13, 2009 11:40 AM

"I'm either going to make this thing fucking work or die trying." My motto exactly.

Posted by: Jeane Goforth at February 18, 2009 4:51 AM

I just spent 15 minutes browsing around stormhoek.com and besides the content in the amusing rants, I couldn't find anything simple enough that would help one locate where the wines are found in the USA and even just a simple listing on what wines they have available!

Branding only goes so far. If they can't find it and buy it, the brand isn't worth a damn.

Posted by: Jason at February 22, 2009 9:35 AM

Thanks for the newsletter. I like your stuff and am totally switched on to the idea. Great about your book - fantastic!

I like creative doodling too ... http://russellcavanagh.com/2/?p=197

All the best ... Looking forward to your next newsletter ...


Posted by: On the Money at February 23, 2009 4:11 PM