This is an indispensable tool for those who want to follow, in English, what really goes on in the world of Spanish and Portuguese wines – lively, informative and, most important, first-hand, on-the-scene knowledge!
Victor de la Serna http://elmundovino.elmundo.es

Marketing in a Web 2.0 world and the power of Google

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We get a lot of wine samples, being that we are the only English speaking site, that I know of, covering Spanish and Portuguese wine. At times, it’s daunting to judge a wine, or winery, by our palates alone. We have no delusions of having Robert Parker like influence on sales. Our goal is simply to put the choice of rating wines into your hands. Our philosophy is to let you know if a wine is either worth trying or seeking out. Based on everyone’s varied tastes, we know that this is a good start, and hopefully, our notes give enough information for you to then decide if said wine is something you would like.

But this is not the reason I’m writing this. The reason I’m writing this is because we recently received a sample in the most unusual way, or should I say, dishonest…

I recently flagged a comment stating that the commenter was the friend of a friend at a winery here in Spain (we like to keep tasting requests out of the comments, so if your a winery who wants to send a sample, please email us). She was interested in what we thought of her friend’s wine made by said bodega, and if we had ever tried them previously. I had tried these wines many times, and liked them, but she offered to ask her friend to send us a couple of samples to taste again. “Great!”, I thought, it’s a winery we haven’t covered recently but have wanted to. Hence, I was excited to have an excuse to try and write an article on their wines again.

The wine arrived in August, but because we were dedicating the month to Portuguese wines, we intended to put off tasting this wine until September. Then, about a week later, I received another email asking for my impression of the wines. At this point, I knew this wasn’t just a friend. I felt like I was being led along some dark trail where a marketer was potentially lurking in the background. So I responded, “Yes, we would try them, but please tell me your association with the bodega and provide more historical information?” I truly hoped she would fess up at this point, but alas, she didn’t. About a day later, I received the full contact information for the Export manager of said bodega, as well as an open invite to visit them. Must be really good friends!

After receiving the last email, I did something so simple it makes me laugh every time I think about it. I took the name of the person who was sending me the emails and typed it into Google. Guess what I found? I not only found her Linkedin page, but also her Neurona (a linkedin Spanish Clone) page, as the #1 and #2 search results. Now can you guess what her current job title is? She’s the Relationship Management with Strategic Food and Beverages importers and distributors worldwide located in Madrid. So, I asked her to join my network, offering to talk to her about her other clients. We have a meeting scheduled by phone sometime next week. She’s promised to disclose her full relationship to the winery and her other clients. Can’t wait!

Note to marketers: Be honest. If you want to “fudge the truth” a bit, or out right lie, then please change your name, or do a vanity search before you act like you are not related to your client.

Anyone have a story like this? Anyone have any advice for this person, I know she’s listening.

Side note: I won’t name the bodega, because I do like their wines and feel they are an important part of the history of Spanish wine.

Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

Follow-up! Since I first wrote this article, we did talk. She is working for the parent company of the winery and has very little to do with the specific brand, and the “friend” part of the story is actually true. We, also, received the samples and enjoyed them very much, but will not publish on the wines right now. The mistake, from what I can tell, was made from her believing that since she did not work directly for the company, she therefore was not required to disclose any relationship. Full disclosure, means FULL disclosure.

Full Disclosure: I did offer to help her to better manage their online image, but was told at the moment they were not interested.

More on Full Disclosure check out this question.

  • Lena

    Good post. As a business journalist I can tell you that one has to be mighty vigilant to make sure one doesn't get "spun" by all the pr and marketing types out there. They realize the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing over conventional advertising and they know that the type of third-party endorsement that comes from an impartial blog will hold a whole lot more weight and influence with some wine lovers than the typical ad campaign. A lot of pr and marketing reps think that they are so clever by not giving full disclosure not realizing that they ultimately do more damage to themselves and whatever client they're promoting by not being fully honest. The truth always comes out. Also, I think in Spain, the "enchufe" mentality is so strong, a lot of people don't see anything wrong by not being fully upfront and honest. Lesson learned. Always ask people what their connection is to the product/company they're touting and then ask again to make sure you don't get used.

  • Lena

    Good post. As a business journalist I can tell you that one has to be mighty vigilant to make sure one doesn’t get “spun” by all the pr and marketing types out there. They realize the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing over conventional advertising and they know that the type of third-party endorsement that comes from an impartial blog will hold a whole lot more weight and influence with some wine lovers than the typical ad campaign. A lot of pr and marketing reps think that they are so clever by not giving full disclosure not realizing that they ultimately do more damage to themselves and whatever client they’re promoting by not being fully honest. The truth always comes out. Also, I think in Spain, the “enchufe” mentality is so strong, a lot of people don’t see anything wrong by not being fully upfront and honest.

    Lesson learned. Always ask people what their connection is to the product/company they’re touting and then ask again to make sure you don’t get used.

  • Ryan

    Lena, yes the Enchufe, is a powerful idea that can lead to many strange situations. It's amazing how an enchufe, can have more power than credentials. The hardest part as in this case, is when you ask a question about who they are and they still don't say.

  • http://www.catavino.net Ryan

    Lena, yes the Enchufe, is a powerful idea that can lead to many strange situations. It’s amazing how an enchufe, can have more power than credentials.

    The hardest part as in this case, is when you ask a question about who they are and they still don’t say.

  • Philip James

    Ryan – i'm a big fan of transparacy. The web enables it, but its good to see people, like you, shake the tree every now and then.

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    Ryan – i’m a big fan of transparacy. The web enables it, but its good to see people, like you, shake the tree every now and then.

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