I recently spent an informative day with Mother. Not my mother, although her day will come, but the uber cool creative agency in London. They have offices in New York and Buenos Aires, but my meagre expenses wouldn’t stretch to Argentina. I came away feeling energised, and a tad more hip – I have a beard which helps – although unlike my young creative advisers am a trifle nearer my sell by date.
I was informed that I was a challenger brand in a bull (not a reference to the Pampas) market, and that I needed a back story – most clients just make theirs up, they said. Mine happens to be true, although I’ll add some blarney later.
“A glorious day, an empty beach, freshly caught shrimp, crab and mackerel and no wine!
While I gutted fish, lit a fire and kept the kids from capsizing – I am manly like that – the VOR magnanimously volunteered to go shopping.
An experience akin to The Clash’s “Lost in the Supermarket” followed. “Unable to shop happily”, she returned exhausted and together we toasted the setting sun with something described as “Good with Fish”
“You should have gone yourself”, said the VOR.
She had encountered a common conundrum. Paralysed in the face of so much choice, many a wine consumer is forced to settle for fail safe, special offers, a pretty label or just getting “something French to be on the safe side”. Subsequent market research confirmed this to be fact. “You should help” said the VOR, “what’s the use of all that knowledge and experience if all you do is bang on about it at the dinner table”. She had a point, I should have gone to the shops myself.
Like the “King of Pop”, I wanted to be starting something and online was my preferred route. Being a shopkeeper meant less time playing with surfboards – but I was about to encounter some serious brainache. Online wine sites boasted exhaustive drop down menus, sorted by country, region, style, colour and price. A myriad, miniscule, bottles floating in white space flashed before my eyes, together with enough multi coloured offers and jumbled visuals to make a maniacally bill postered wall look minimalist. I struggled to get beyond the home pages and I’d failed my MW theory.
“There’s no emotion” said the VOR (a rabid and evangelical foodie), “You can’t weigh it, touch it or squeeze it like food. It’s impossible to physically interact with a bottle of wine until you open it and drink it”. She had a point, some feeling was desperately required.
“How are you to know if it’s an interesting, stylish and delicious drink – designed to go with food rather than dominate it – or an over produced, neutral, alcoholic and sugar – driven monster, deliberately created for mass market appeal” – She didn’t say that, I did.
Essentially it all comes down to pleasure. I believe that by approaching wine in a careful and thoughtful way, informed by food and occasion, increases the pleasure derived from it. Over processed, over produced wine is like its equivalent in food – it just doesn’t make you feel good!
So I did something, I started a wine and food matching company called bybo. It’s not like “A Man Called Horse”, but it’s just as emotive. It’s not really a hobby, although it does keep me off the streets, nor is it a desire to do a good deed – I have always considered myself selfish rather than philanthropic – but I do have a mission. I want to sell quality wine to people who care about value rather than price, supporting growers and producers to ensure they stay connected to the land and environment in which they work. I oppose a mono – branded world by favouring slow rather than fast food, field over factory, local above global. Phew, that’s philanthropic. Truth is, I just want to make enough money to spend more time at the beach. Got to go the tides on the turn”.