Monday, January 07, 2008

Sad news for wine marketers

This story caught my eye this weekend:

Orbital Collapses into Administration (from Off Licence News)

You may never have heard of Orbital, but if you read about wine you have probably heard about Stormhoek and their more innovative marketing campaigns, particularly online, and as a blog reader/publisher you will almost certainly have come across Hugh MacLeod at Gapingvoid who has been working with the brand.

They have managed to create great visibility and brand awareness for stormhoek, particularly in certain quarters. Unfortunately, it seems that they have not been able to match that with commercial returns, and the business has gone into administration.

This is by no means the end of the story, as it is essentially about cash flow and not the brand or the wine, but it just goes to show that we may talk a lot about what wine could do to become better at communicating with customers and the wine conversation, but margins are so tight, there is very little one can do without very deep pockets.

I trust someone will buy the business as a whole and keep these people in their jobs, and it might even be one of the big international businesses who'd love to have the brand and expertise in their 'stable'.

A sad day for marketers in the wine business.

As Hugh likes to say, and Stormhoek have recently headed their site:

"Change the world or go home"

Unfortunately, the world doesn't seem ready to change, yet!

[UPDATE] Josh at Pinotblogger has picked up on this story as well and made some interesting points, some of which I commented on on his blog. Definitely interesting times.


Unknown said...

Hi Robert

Thank you for writing such a lovely and truthful post...

catherine x (Stormhoek/Orbital etc.)

Robert McIntosh said...

I's say "my pleasure" but of course, those aren't the right words

I sincerely hope that you guys find a solution soon, and I look forward to my invitation to your "relaunch" party! Fingers crossed.

Andrew said...

A shame indeed - especially as I have met many of the people behind it. passionate being the best word I can find to describe them...

Anonymous said...

herewith the link to my commentary to a this sad history
I'm an Italian wine writer and this commentary is my wine blog Vino al Vino

Anonymous said...


Good post, but it's not just about promotion is it - remember the 4 P's? The marketing needs to be supported by a good product at a price people are prepared to pay. Finally there needs to be a distribution chain where the buyer can go and pay some money and in return receive the goods.
I thought the phrase "Change the world or go home" was first coined by Hugh at the Microsoft Blue Monster group on Facebook (of which I am a member).
The group launched a Blue Monster branded wine (from Stormhoek)in a brilliant piece of marketing. I tried to buy six bottles because I thought it would be fun to review such an "exclusive" wine on my site but after a short exchange of emails it was simply proving too difficult so I gave up.
Consumers are very demanding these days - marketing can stimulate interest but in the end the whole product (and buying experience) has to deliver.
It's deinitely a shame when great marketing goes to waste.