Stormhoek Blue Monster, or How to attract Microsoft to promote your wine


Microsoft you have to pick up? How is this possible? No, in fact, if you are only a small, traditional business? The most remote from all that is customarily associated with high technology. For example, a small poultry farm near Moscow, Astrakhan melon, a Siberian animal farm or a South African winery? Where are you, and where is the silicone valley. In all senses, not only in geographical terms. Can you safely hope that part of the worldwide glory of a corporation-monster will be spilled on you, thereby raising your small business out of nothingness of obscurity? It turns out that this happens. This happened in 2007, and it was with the South African winery. Remember only this word – a monster , it will be the key in our story.

Corporate wine

Blue-monsterCorporate wine – in this, in general, there is nothing new, many companies, giving their customers T-shirts, bags, pens and mugs with their logo, went further and began to produce “their own” wine. The manufacturer is ordered a batch of bottles with a corporate label , on which instead of the traditional picture of the chateau – a stylized image of the main office of the corporation, the proud profile of its head or, alternatively – he, on horseback. Looking ahead, we will reassure the reader – from the idea to place the profile of Bill Gates on the wine label still refused, and there He appeared – the notorious Blue Monster .

Who found whom?

But we are interested in the sequence of events – who in the head came this idea? Why Microsoft, choosing a winery among the sea, chose this, almost the most … microscopic? Or did the initiative come from the other side? Perhaps the ambitious idea of ​​becoming a Microsoft partner came to the minds of South African children?

Neither, nor the other. And at the same time, both. Well, that is, everything was like in life – a little dream, a little will and a lot of randomness. The background of this partnership is very interesting, almost more interesting than himself. The fact is that in Stormhoek did not immediately take a course to conquer the computer giant, they did a lot of outstanding things before. This, by which Microsoft could not pass. The guys were already very advanced in the sense in which progress is generally interpreted in a high-tech environment.

Advanced winemaker

Perhaps the root of all that President Stormhoek, Dzheyson Korman (by Jason Korman) , was not a simple winemaker. By the time he started describing the events, he was still quite a young man and quite confident computer and Internet user. Blogging and social networks were not just an idle talk and wasting time for him, as for most of his colleagues, whose head is entirely occupied with agriculture, pruning vines and fighting pests that encroach on their vineyards. Although Jason’s vineyards are magnificent:

View of the vineyards Stormhoek,

It is interesting to note here that last autumn the world wine forum Wine Future 2009 was held , where winemakers, wine critics and other wine people discussed the problem of “persecution” of the consumer in the network. Like, humanity is rapidly moving into the network, and hence winemaking and winemaking should also be maximally represented on the Internet. Sites, blogs, social networks – all the places of the accumulation of the potential consumer should be mastered by winemakers if they want to stay afloat in the modern world.

Well, Jason Corman knew all this well and felt much earlier. By the time he was recognized in Microsoft about his wine, it was already widely known in the network as “wine bloggers” . Here is how it was.

Fateful meeting in the network

Before Jason was a problem to bring to the world information about the existence of his business, he was interested in ways to promote business in the network, he felt that he could find his customer there. Surfing in the network brought him to a very interesting and fun blog of the artist-cartoonist, who by lucky coincidence was also a professional marketer.

Jason thought it was this easy breezy style, in which the author of the blog, Hyu Makleod (Hugh Macleod) communicated with the audience, and a funny cartoon caricatures quite meet his own ideas about what he would like to see the information on the fault in the network. And he invited McLeod to take part in the promotion of his products.

The beginning of cooperation

Among other things, what do site experts do, McLeod first drew a lot of funny wine labels for Jason’s wine, wrote a bunch of witty posts about the winery and Stormhoek wine. “You can be a narrow professional, knowing nothing, in addition to his purely technical profession, but you drink wine. These simple matters are outside of professions and over specialties. “Moreover, when they are so easily and naturally submitted. The network community was interested, the comments and questions about the acquisition of wine were poured.

All this was supported by the parallel opening of the blog site of the winemaker himself , where in an equally witty manner, in dialogue with the MacLeod blog, he talked about his fault, about new technologies in winemaking, about new trends of freshness and fruitiness of his wine taste, about that , why screwed cork on its bottles – it does not suck, as the uninitiated think, but the next step after the usual cork stopper. He has a wonderful manifesto in his blog , where he compares computer hacking and his new approach to winemaking. Just like hacking hackers of software codes, new methods and trends in winemaking open the way for innovation.

Stormhoek Blue Monster
Hugh McLeod and Jason Corman

Two of these resources, they greatly enhanced the fame of the wine company Jason among bloggers, close to the segment in which McLeod worked most – SEO bloggers, and in general, techies, geeks. The platform for the breakthrough was created – they learned about the wine.

And then MacLeod makes a real breakthrough. He devises how to apply the methods of viral advertising to their specific case.

MacLeod steers: wine as a gift

He organizes his crown action – announces in his blog that the winery within the advertising company of his wine is ready to give it a free trial, moreover – it sends out a wine to each blogger in the UK, Ireland and France with his, a blogger, a name tag. That is, on the label of Stormhoek wine the network address of the blogger interested in wine will be printed. On a legitimate question – and what should we do in return? – The answer was – nothing! After all, this is an advertising campaign, we just want to give you a chance to try your product, and there – if you like it, maybe you’ll buy it regularly from us, maybe tell your relatives, friends, in your blog, in your community. But this is absolutely not necessary, you are our ultimate target audience, potential potential wine buyers. You owe us nothing, please – praise,

Well, do you think the bloggers could react to this? Having received a gift of wine with your network address on the label? – Only way! A hundred bloggers posted posts on their blogs – with photos of themselves and their address on the wine label.

Stormhoek Blue Monster
The signature under the photo on Flickr: “My free bottle of Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc arrived. As you can see, there are some advantages to being a blogger. “

The news spread over the network. Up to 2500 publications, crosspostings, mass links in blogs and other online publications, over 600 photos on Flickr. This whole story lasted six months, and the sales of wine in Europe, where the whole company was developing, doubled during this time. And a year later, MacLeod wrote in his blog:

“Fivefold increase in sales in less than two years! And this would not happen without the blogosphere, which is at the very epicenter of everything that we do. Thank you all! “

According to several profile publications, the advertising strategy Stormhoek took first place in the list of the most effective marketing campaigns in 2006. But the most important thing about the network was widely recognized by the network community, Stormhoek deserved the glory of “blogger wine”, “bloggers’ guilt”, and this, you will agree, is already signs of the brand.

This alone would be enough to make McLeod find his work with Stormhoek successful. However, he was not going to stop there.

MacLeod steers-2: techno-parties for geeks

In the course of the previous action in Europe, McLeod and Corman understand that success was provided by a combination of online and offline strategies. It is necessary to distribute in the community not only information about wine, which their reader will then buy himself. No, it was necessary to distribute the wine itself in the course of real contacts with the users of the network.

This strategy this time decided to implement in a new way – a series of techno parties for bloggers was held – already in the framework of the development of the American market. The action of McLeod and Stormhoek was held in the spring and summer of 2006, it was named 100 technopaths in 100 days . “We decided to raise the stakes,” as he writes in his blog.

The natural consequence of this action was Flikra’s flooding of photographic streams from so-called geek parties:

Stormhoek Blue Monster
Jason Corman in the company of geeks at one of the tehno-parties

During these actions, the reputation of “blogger wine” and the attribute of hi-tech hangouts established itself in Stormhoek and in the USA. Prior to Silicon Valley, one step was left, which, in fact, all who followed their successes, already foreseen, and our friends – just planned and implemented. It was easy – their parties could get any bloggers who wanted to try their wines and chat in their own environment. There were also Microsoft employees. In particular, and an old friend of McLeod – Steve Clayton.

MacLeod steers-3: corporate wine for Microsoft

Stiv Kleyton (Steve Clayton) in addition to its main technical activities of the corporation is also responsible for the company’s image in social networks, twitter, facebook, maintains its own blog boom, which covers internal corporate life Microsoft.

And then MacLeod does for him a very important thing – he comes up with a visual image, a talisman for the network community of geeks Microsoft – he comes up with the Blue Monster.

Change the world or go home!

The image of the monster very accurately hits the target – it simultaneously ridicules attacks on the corporation’s aggressive behavior on the world computer scene, and challenges its own employees. Change the world or go home! – Requires a monster.

Clayton opens a community of Friends of the Blue Monster in Facebook and actively promotes it in his personal blog,
viewing it as an action to strengthen the intracorporate relationship and the creative atmosphere in the company.

And then – McLeod and Clayton connect the idea of ​​a Microsoft networking community with the idea of ​​wine parties for geeks – through the idea of ​​creating corporate wine.

“Wine catalyzes communication, and communication is the meaning of social networks. Who, like non-geeks, bloggers and active users of social networks, understands the idea of ​​communication best? Both wine and social networks create a space for communication. By combining these two things, we are building the idea of ​​communication into a square. “

Thus, the logo of the Blue Monster takes its place on the Stormhoek labels, the “soft” gets a exclusive wine for their private parties, and the wine of the small South African winemaking company becomes Microsoft’s corporate wine.

Hugh McLeod and Steve Clayton try the first bottle of vintage Blue Monster

Everything is very simple and natural. You just had to be ready. The wine-maker had to be an advanced web-sitter and easy to upgrade and change by the entrepreneur, and the cartoonist had to be an inventive marketer and a brilliant network strategist. The corporate image-manager needed to understand the communicative properties of wine, and bloggers had to simply be bloggers.


twitterRecently, a message appeared from the network that Twitter also produces its own branded wine. Well, well, – says Steve Clayton at home this news. – Swam, we know! Promotion of Twitter-wine on Twitter networks is not so complicated, especially since the precedent of super-successful strategy is well known. Well, let’s see what they can do.


Now the company Stormhoek continues to develop the US wine market, supports its actions with the reputation of “wine bloggers” and generally progressively oriented users of the World Wide Web, produces new wines, and continues to increase trade. Starting with an annual sales of 50,000 boxes, it increased them by an order of magnitude. Perhaps, the expansion of production will follow, and then, probably, they will still be able to surprise the world with their innovative marketing technologies.

In case they suddenly start to master the wine market in Russia – remember how it looks, especially the slogan on the counter-label:

Wine Stormhoek

Wine Stormhoek. Counter Label

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *