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Wineries are persisting in these tumultuous times

Take a read: great New York Times analysis by Mireille Silcoff on June 3 about what the ‘after times’ will look like from a marketing perspective. She references this gum ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxm7Hu-IHJs and this bourbon ad https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6peI1_fKKk .

“….The first thing you see, in what must be among the best TV ads of the season, is tumbleweed rolling where no tumbleweed should roll, in the middle of a city street edged with offices and apartments. But then you realize it is largely made up of disposable masks, and the street is howlingly empty. A title card reads, “Sometime in the not too distant future.” …..This is “For When It’s Time,” a commercial for Wrigley’s Extra gum. It was shot in March in Santiago, Chile, and employed hundreds of actors……. Much to the delight of executives — who, mask breath notwithstanding, have seen a 40 percent decrease in global gum sales during the pandemic — it went viral immediately.

In a way, the ad is a rare bull’s-eye in an arduous year for advertisers, who have spent the pandemic trying to understand the zeitgeist and then race to fit their ads to it before it changes. As the virus first struck the United States, a huge, soppy swath of ads solemnly declared that we were all in this together — you, me and every car company on earth. Then, once we acclimated to masks and Zoom meetings and nonchalantly telling our children “Don’t touch that” 12 times a minute, ad makers were humbled enough to submit to public feeling. Some of the most memorable commercials mirrored the weirdness of pandemic life, like the witty Bulleit Bourbon spot in which a man invites his new drinking buddies— household items like a mop, a cheese grater and a light switch that each look uncannily like a face — to join him for cocktails.

Booze brands, of course, have had a relatively relaxing pandemic, sales-wise. Many other products and services — everything from single-serve snack foods to auto parts to entire Greyhound bus lines — became practically inessential in one fell swoop, leaving marketers discombobulated….

Nobody knows when “sometime in the not too distant future” will arrive or what it will look like. But the vision in Extra’s ad is the one that’s been steadily gaining currency, and it looks an awful lot like an orgy: In the commercial, that giddy gaggle of freed humanity descends on a park and falls into a kind of multigenerational cuddle puddle — a pandemonium of sweatpants askew and unshaven body parts and sprinklers gone wild. These are people who definitely need gum again.

It’s an Age of Aquarius take on what I’ve been shorthanding as “MULT”: Making Up for Lost Time. The message seems to be that while we’ve all experienced the pandemic differently, we will, when it’s over, want to shake it off in the same way: immediately, exuberantly and with near-Vesuvian exchanges of body fluids. If industry crystal balls are to be currently believed, the main tenor of our world post-Covid will be high extroversion: “revenge travel” that resuscitates tourism industries, decadent maximalism in home design, fall fashions that have the words “sequins” and “office” sitting weirdly near each other. We’ve been told, to the point where it feels like a consumer duty, that we are in for another “Roaring ’20s” of spendy debauchery. The idea, gathering like weather, is that we will all run out at once and be more muchly ourselves than we’ve ever been — while treating ourselves to every last product and service that we had briefly learned to do without….In the coming weeks, as you are repeatedly encouraged to burst gleefully forth, remember who is helping to light that fire beneath you, stoking your normal desire for joy and ease and freedom of movement. The pain and wisdom seeded by the past year are fragile. They need to be introduced back into the world carefully….”

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The Coronavirus ripped away conventional marketing, whether in the wine business or any business. Yet, while we were social distancing, we still craved contact.

As marketers, it was a time to dig deep. Creativity. Imagination. Empathy. Discretion, walking the line between exploiting and community building. Do you charge for your virtual tasting? Does your “quarantine kit” have a whimsical detail or two? The goal of course is selling more wine…not having a prospective customer look up from your eblast with a cringe and a groan.

Stay informed, whether it’s what Bill Gates is noticing, or how The New York Times is helping its readers.