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  1. hugh macleod hugh macleod

    Why is it crappy?

  2. Ben Ben

    Because I don’t like the taste. But then I don’t drink, so that could be why.

    I also do think the way it’s being marketed is pretty ‘crappy’, but then I don’t deny that it’s all above board and you are within your right to push it in the way you do.

    I just think it pollutes the blogosphere as you are giving one brand an a disproportionate advantage over its rivals — it’s not “natural selection”. Plus there is certain expectation (be it implied or just passive) for someone to give it a favourable review having received a complimentary bottle.

    Of course, that’s nothing different from wine tasting reviews in newspapers or magazines — or any other reviews for that matter. I just hoped that kind of stuff wouldn’t find its way onto the blogosphere.

  3. hugh macleod hugh macleod

    So it’s OK for Microsoft to use blogs to connect with people (you were at the last Scoble dinner, so I assume your answer is “yes”), it’s OK for the BBC to use blogs to connect with people, but not OK for a small, independant wine company to use blogs to connect with people?

    Interesting perspective.

  4. Ben Ben

    There’s a difference between companies/organisations connecting with their audience/customers and what you are doing.

    I haven’t got a problem with the wine company having a blog, which is their platform to connect with their customers and potential customers.

    But in this instance you (on behalf of the wine company) are asking other blogoshphere “peers” (ie not the company) to promote the wine in return for an incentive (free bottle). In that situation the company isn’t connecting with their customers at all.

    Like I said, there’s nothing particularly odd/unusual here and it’s a perfectly legitamate promotional method — but I just find it somewhat frustrating as it plays on the trust model that the blogsphere has developed.

  5. I actually had a conversation with Hugh about this some weeks back. My opinion is that this promotion only works because Hugh’s blog has the readership numbers it has. Had I personally started a similar promotion (I get about 5000 uniques a month) it would have fallen flat on it’s face.

    But I don’t think that Hugh is asking for anything in return for the free bottle. If anything he made it clear that he was interested in an honest opinion rather than a paid review.

    Does this cross the border between citizen publishing and marketing? Of course. But when it is done responsibly I don’t find fault with that.

  6. Bafjohnson Bafjohnson

    “to promote the wine in return for an incentive (free bottle).”

    I guess I can see both sides of this – however I for one wouldn’t be promoting something if I thought it was ‘crappy’. Free bottle or no free bottle.

    Drink it, if it’s crap I would say it was crap, but probably once and fairly quietly. If it was good I would be more likely to be vocal and rave about it – but I’m like that about things, whether I pay or get them free.

    (And no, I haven’t requested a free bottle, or tried it, so I can’t say whether I like it or not!).

  7. I think you are wrong. While I may have a different view from some recipients – I write about wine – I have never given a good review, if the wine was rubbish, just because I received the bottle for free. I think you have an overly cynical take on the whole idea; I dont think anyone would say the wine was great if it tasted like paint stripper.

  8. Ben Ben

    I’m sure they wouldn’t say the wine tasted great if it tasted like paint stripper.

    But what about if it tasted “ok but not great”? I still think there’s psycology there would mean you would give it a better review then perhaps if you had bought it in the shop (and therefore paid for it — and felt even more let down, etc).

    Plus the very fact that people are talking about it, even here, is still promotion – to he point where people say “for heaven’s sake, I’ll try some of that wine because everyone’s talking about it”.

    That’s the ‘artificial’ aspect to it – it’s the buzz marketing regardless of what that buzz actually is.

  9. sloan sloan

    ben, how is this an unfair advantage? lets say wine A is the greatest wine on earth, but they do not market it at all and wine B is mediocre, but is advertised on billboards, tv ads, and radio stations non-stop. wine B will make more money and be viewed as more successful. -not based on merit, but based on marketing.

    if you’d actually read the reviews, you’d see that people aren’t calling it great wine. they’re calling it a good value. nobody is claiming that its an elite wine.

    don’t be jealous that stormhoek has an incredible marketing campaign.

  10. This thread is the final proof that, on the Internet, you can find an argument with *anyone* about *anything*. πŸ™‚

  11. Yeah, the “natural selection” comment is strange. There really is no such thing in a competitive marketplace. Natural selection might happen if all competing products in a given space–wine, in this instance–were marketed equally (or not at all). In that event, the market would determine which brands it liked and didn’t. The product that won the space would do so via word of mouth.

    Competition necessitates advertising, especially for a start-up brand. What’s so different about Stormhoek’s “blogvertising” from say,’s advertisements during the American Superbowl? Not as splashy (certainly less expensive) and maybe Hugh doesn’t look like the chick, but both campaigns have people talking. is a bigger brand now than Network Solutions, if I’m not mistaken. Good for them; they got creative and won the space.

  12. nick nick

    Anyone heard of Earl Dittman?

    Anyway, I made this point on Mr Coates’s site: there’s a slight difference between giving bloggers bits of tech kit that they can demonstrably use as part of their blogging — for instance, a cameraphone — and giving them bottles of wine.

  13. Ben,

    ‘you (on behalf of the wine company) are asking other blogoshphere β€œpeers” (ie not the company) to promote the wine in return for an incentive (free bottle).’

    I signed up but didn’t see this request anywhere?! I think you have it backwards – it’s not ‘promote the company and get free bottle of wine’ it’s ‘get a free bottle of wine and we hope you’ll like it enough to tell your peers about it’.

    AND I posted about it – does that mean I’M asking ‘peers’ to promote it? Even though there’s nothing in it for me?

  14. I dunno, Nick, it seems a lot of bloggers use alcohol to enhance their blogging experience πŸ˜‰

  15. when it comes down to scratch I think it is brilliant what Hugh is doing ! it is proven blogvertising at it’s best.

    the innovative level of this is skyhigh my friends !

    and Ben, it is not common practice for companies to whine about ” unfair advantages” they usually copy it to their own brand.

    and if it hadn’t been stormhoek it would have been somebody else.

    Im just happy that it is a tiny wine brand instead of some multinational company looking to innovate themselves…

    if Hugh had decided to promote Nike instead, that my friends would have been selling out the blogosphere..

    the blogosphere is in my opinion the land of small voices being heard..

    all the best

  16. Part of the problem is expertise. I quite like lots of wines that are terrible value for money or are way *way* below the best you can get for the same cost. So if I think (and blog) that Stormhoek is great, that opinion isn’t worth very much. If Jilly Goulden says it’s great – well, she’s tasted a lot more wine that me, so she’s probably a more reliable indicator of what *you* might get out it.

    I hate to say it, but blogging is just like publishing. The “cleaner” you stay editorially, the more people will trust you. If you shill for anything – and especially if you gets paid lots for doing so – people will start to believe in you less. You takes your money and you pays your choice (or something…)

  17. Does this mean that book reviews are off limits if the publisher sends a blogger a review copy?

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