Ad mogul gives cutting critique of wine trade

18th September, 2014 by Lauren Eads

The wine industry is “peculiar, fragmented, confusing and impenetrable”, has done little to further its growth and lacks innovation, according to one of the UK’s foremost figures in advertising.

Sir John Hegarty at the WSTA annual conference yesterday

That is what Sir John Hegarty, the man behind iconic adverts including Johnnie Walker’s “keep walking” campaign and Levi 501’s famed laundrette advert, told delegates at the Wine and Spirit Trade Association’s (WSTA) annual conference yesterday.

Hegarty, whose career in the advertising industry spans six decades, was knighted in 2007 for his services to the industry and holds a close association to the wine industry as the owner of a vineyard in the Languedoc where he produces his Hegarty Chamans wine.

Despite his investment in wine, he….

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8 Responses to “Ad mogul gives cutting critique of wine trade”

  1. Brian George says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Sir John ‘Lose the mystery, but keep the magic’ couldn’t be more appropriate.
    The vast majority of consumers simply don’t have a clue, as can be witnessed by a walk up and down any wine aisle in any mult! Most still buy on deal or by comfort or even worse misplaced perception!
    Certainly there is a great degree of myopia within the wine industry, with far too many thinking its special/different and needs to maintain that position! The analogy with craft beers or specialty ciders is spot-on!
    Occasionality is certainly key but to get there consumers need to at least be able to understand what/why they are buying/consuming, which is something we’ve been pioneering for a while now with and – basic education, linked to occasions is the answer to growing the market!

  2. Sam Plunkett says:

    A terrific article thank you. I particularly like that change from thinking about consumers to thinking about an audience. Cheers, Sam

  3. Steven says:

    Demonstrably wrong surely? Many times I see mention of, or adverts for a ‘Brand Ambassador’ or ‘Brand Manager’ in the wine business

  4. Marlene Kilo says:

    All very well but “Lose The Mystery, Not The Magic” doesn’t really square the circle that, as he rightly says, consumers think wine over £6 is overpriced and producers think wine under £6 is shit. Coming up with a slogan is fine but he hasn’t made any concrete suggestions to back it up.

    After all, Sir John Hegarty isn’t saying anything that we all don’t realise already….

  5. Lou Ares says:

    I have long agreed with this exact philosophy for over 20 years. As a Consumer, buyer and retailer I have fought this battle for a long long time. Wine to some degree is treated like Astrophysics or Organic Chemistry in that it seems only a select handful of black-hooded priests fully understand the depth of its craft. In so doing, the industry as whole has alienated the average consumer with little understanding of Oenology and its sup disciplines; Agriculture, Meteorology and Biology. This is and has long been a mistake and its refreshing that someone with a heard voice has strongly identified this as a problem that desperately needs to be addressed. Like Carl Sagan brought lofty scientific concepts to the lay person in the form of the mini-series Cosmos, so too must this be done with wine appreciation if we are to see reasonable and tangible growth in the middle markets especially in the US and Australian markets.

  6. Liam Young says:

    A great article and reminder of how messed up things are in this business and how ugly it’s going to get. The industry has been very effective at moving production away from the original quality requirements towards mass, commercial wines, all the while sustaining massive premiums. Without a sense of mystery, how else do you keep prices inflated well beyond the cost of the original inputs (at least for commercial producers)? Some of today’s wine judging contests have outrageous pomp and circumstance, all to keep the myth of quality alive while judging and assigning ‘high marks’ for mass produced garbage while small, boutique producers suffocate under the costs of entry fees, marketing, listings with retailers and high legal barriers to entry.

    Consumers remain lost in the dark when it comes to wine because the wine business wants it that way. Why else would wine be the only food product on the planet that is still able to avoid such basic requirements like labeling for nutritional contents and ingredients?

    I agree with Hegarty that the industry is a mess, but I think the idea of a single brand leader is just asking for more commercialization and more attempts to fool the public into thinking that they’re getting high quality from bulk wines.
    Frankly, the spirits and beer businesses have run into the same issue, with so much being made from corn, but marketed as something ‘magical’.

  7. Interesting critique of the industry. However, having followed Sir John Hegarty’s recent foray into the wine world with great interest, I find that his own wine branding endeavours with have been non-eventful, and pretty much status quo with his struggling French wine industry peer group.
    I expected much greater wine marketing oomph from his clever mind. Perhaps Sir John Hegarty is best suited to be a marketing advisor than a client himself?
    C’est dommage.

  8. mmatias says:

    Sir J Hegarty is correct is his assertions, mind it apply in every branch of our so called developed world. The lack of knowledge and cultured people is phenomenal. Our world hurried into mechanization in the 19thC as the great saviour of our way of life, the devastation which is leaving behind is pure bewilderment that nor even privileged minds as SirJohn Hegarty are able to comprehend. We have to make time to live.
    The industry is its worse enemy. The pleasure of tasting a good full body red in the small villages in Portugal, Spain or Chile the splendour of a dry crispy cool white in Saint Tropez at the highs of the summer is unique….that is the image which one should cultivate in people/audience mind…culture values must be shared one cannot ever promote peace and passion alone. What is the use of knowledge if it is not SHARED, tasted, spoken about, demonstrated…explained convey One cannot just take we must give.. it is 50/50.

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