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August 25, 2006

Hardy's - 'Best wine under the sun' or 'All that sun gone to their heads'?

hardys1.jpg

hardys.jpg


They’d have been better off with the strapline ‘Best wine under the duvet’! At least I may have paid some attention to that, if not rushed into Threshers to see if it was true.

What am I referring to? Hardy’s, one of the world’s largest wine companies, has been running an ad campaign for the last few weeks here in the UK – print, outdoor posters, TV - the full monty, with the theme ‘The best wine under the sun’.

Now with such large advertising budgets (probably at least £1M worth for this burst I’d say), reaching so many people across the UK, I’m totally stumped as to why they chose such a meaningless, generic communication statement about the brand with absolutely zero call to action. In my experience, if someone has to say they’re the best, they’re probably not.

I’ll bet they fought tooth and nail to get the ASA to approve the line 'the best wine under the sun' after the Nielsen research apparently showed they are 'the no.1 selling wine in some UK markets'.

According to a spokesperson, " Hardys has been producing the 'best wines under the sun' for more than 150 years". Fighting so hard to get such a generic line approved doesn't allow much time to notice how times have changed in the last 150 years I suppose... They went on to say "The 'Best Wine Under the Sun' theme is very emotive, and very South Australian – and we make no apologies for that," (Hardys Global Marketing Manager, Ms Vicki Greaves).

A lesson in the perils of spending too much time in the sun perhaps?

Now, as a former Brand Manager for L’Oreal, of course I’m not criticising all forms of traditional marketing and media. They can clearly be very successful if well targeted with strong relevant messages for their target market.

But I fail to see how such a dull & bland ad campaign can really cut through, let alone build the brand’s identity positively, in today’s cut throat marketing environment.

Of course it’s entirely possible that I’m not Hardy’s target market, but surely anyone with even the most basic interest in wine is looking for something a bit more interesting and compelling than that? The wine you drink can say as much about you as the clothes you wear, music you listen to or car you drive - and maybe we don't all want to go unnoticed listening to easy-listening tunes in our Ford Mondeos and beige jumpers.

For me, being a bland brand is worse than being a brand with a bad reputation. At least those brands get noticed and have personality.

We shouldn't forget that Hardy's is, to date, a very successful wine company but they should dig a little deeper if they want to stay in pole position.

The acid test: would you take a bottle of Hardy’s to a dinner party? Didn’t think so.


Sam

Stormhoek UK

Posted by Jason at August 25, 2006 2:29 PM

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Comments

Sam, that's a myopic posting, really............your "duvet" comment misses the mark: the strapline is meant to conjure the sun for those people huddled under the duvets in dreary olde englande (or wherever they might live which is not drenched with sun, and would not need such a strapline...)

there was a club med campaign year ago which made the same elementary connection.........it's merely an aspect of aspirational marketing to the mass market wine consumer

(your smug effort betrays your eagerness a bit)

Posted by: liam barnes at September 2, 2006 8:13 PM

Liam,

Thanks for your comment and apologies any smugness, it wasn't my intention. I just get a bit frustrated when big corporate companies don't give consumers the credit they deserve.

Perhaps their intention was aspiration-driven (although the campaign was running during one of the hottest months since records began in the UK) but I think it was also a superiority claim based on sales figures.

My point in light of this is that such simplistic communication for such a complex and particularly subjective category surely undermines the consumer's intelligence. What does 'best wine under the sun' actually mean to anyone? Yes they are a popular brand, but should consumers buy a bottle just because thousands of other people have? Do we really want to be thought of as sheep? Give us a reason to believe and its a different matter... it might be popular, but why?

Posted by: Sam at September 6, 2006 9:14 AM

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