One of the best marketing books I’ve read in recent years is Punk Marketing by Richard Laermer and Mark Simmons. It has nothing to do with raucous music and safety pins. The book focuses on alternative approaches to connecting with consumers. Stuff that takes guts to do. (disclosure) The book mentions the original getmoredone.com website I did but that was a shock to me.
Novello del Veneto is an Italian wine released annually along side French Beaujolais Nouveau. It’s a flash in the market expected to sell out in about six weeks. To me that’s an opportunity to do something riskier than I would with a long term product.
I designed the first packaging for the product in 1999. It was based on a piece of art taken from an antique map. The winery sent the image – an illustration of the winged lion of Venice – and asked me design packaging using it. It was surprisingly successful. What I’ve never forgotten though was what my client said at a party celebrating the product launch. “This is great but next year, do something totally different.” I’ve approached it that way ever since.
I should explain that getting this product to market is never a sure thing. There is a selection process involved and to get the contract you have to be chosen as best in category. Not for the wine. The grapes are still on the vine when this decision is made. It’s based on packaging and marketing. Novello del Veneto with my designs has been chosen for 13 consecutive years.
Here’s the punk marketing part. I totally ignore the program design brief. Let the French do the bright colours and flowers and fight each other for attention. My direction is simple. The design is based on a lion – the symbol of the winery. Beyond that, anything goes. Some of the designs are dark gothic fantasies. Inspirations have included Dali, Erte and tribal tattoos. Some of the designs are admittedly pretty wild. Submitting this work every year scares the crap out of us. It’s no guts, no glory and I can’t praise my client enough for having faith in this. Then again it’s hard not to appreciate getting the highest volume order and outselling your foreign competitor at their own game.
Punk marketing part two. The wine label has never been designed as a wine label. One of the requirements for this program was to produce display pieces. We overprinted the runs and distributed the overage as posters along side the wine. Consumers loved the posters. That’s the secret. I designed the posters first. The labels were an adaptation of the posters not the other way around.
Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to produce the posters any more. The retailer has opted instead for generic program displays. I get calls and emails from fans asking for the posters. Yes, fans. Since the second edition, my name has been on the back label (not my idea) with my explanation of the design concept. I used to sign the posters at the product launch. I found that strange but loved the connection. I still design the label as a poster first. I still design the poster and send the file to anyone who wants to print it themselves.
In a Facebook group I created (that seems to be impossible to find without this link) I described this year’s design as a Symphony in Blue which is also the title of one of my favourite Kate Bush songs. Of course it’s very different from any of the previous twelve designs. Reaction has been great both live and through social media. The client is thrilled. I took the photo below at the launch. There were three or four shelves stacked like this. According to an inventory check for this store, at the end of the day, there was one bottle left. Some punk probably hid it.