The Matrix, Experience Channels, and THE WINE PACKAGING OF TOMORROW!!!

Andy Warhol said that in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes. He was wrong. In fact, in the future, everyone will be an advert for fifteen minutes. That’s because it’s in the nature of experience channels to allow just about anyone to share their impressions of a particular brand in a way that’s very public, very credible, and thus very good for the brand.

Whenever that happens, I’m reminded of ‘The Matrix’, and in particular the way that the men-in-black security agents possess people. Someone perfectly normal is walking down the street; all of a sudden, they get zapped, turn into a man in black, and start chasing their target; all of a sudden, the chase has moved on, and a rather puzzled citizen is left to be themselves again. When you watch that, you’re not watching fantasy; you’re watching a very astute metaphor for the ad agency of the future.

And now it’s my turn to step into the chase and become an advert, because the rather lovely people at FreshCase have sent me a couple of boxes of Hardys Nottage Hill wine to try out – a Cabernet Shiraz and a Sauvignon. Rather than write about it, I thought I’d make a quick videoblog – so, here’s my own small contribution to their rapidly growing experience channel:

http://vimeo.com/9030111

And how’s the FreshCase experience channel coming along? Well, if you google FreshCase then the first page you get balances more formal news stories with a number of bloggers talking about the product. It’s not at Red Bull levels yet, but it is an impressive demonstration of just how impactful a well curated web presence – rather than a website – can be. A whole page of positive mentions from varied sources will always trump one or two search results pointing to a single site, no matter how well placed those results are.

What’s interesting, though, is how FreshCase’s experience channel can develop. It’s doing very well on the blogs, but those rather funky wine boxes haven’t yet metamorphosed into the fully fledged social objects that they could so easily become. As a result, the FreshCase experience channel isn’t yet fully mature; the various film and video sites are still waiting to be populated with content that records the social drinking of FreshCase wine, rather than just the more individual testing of it.

There’s a very interesting opportunity there. I’d look to follow the example of Hugh Macleod’s work with Stormhoek; by getting 100 Dinners going, he created an experience channel based on authentic real world fun, that both generated substantial online content for the brand, and helped a lot of people have a really good time so doing. Oh, and increased sales by five in less than two years!

I wonder what the FreshCase equivalent would be? I’m not quite sure, because I’m not really close enough to the brand to judge. If you put me up against a wall and threatened to shoot me, though, I’d be tempted to think in terms of FreshCase soirees / salons; I’d get some interesting folk along, maybe a little performance of some description, lots of conversation, a FreshCase box on every table, make sure there’s wireless, and let the social media generate itself. And of course I’d run them over a very specific six week period, because that’s how long wine lasts in a FreshCase box.

And in the meantime, I’m off to have another glass of wine. One tip, though – the wine doesn’t breathe as well as it could, precisely because the box is so effectively airtight. That’s not a problem for the white, but we’ve been decanting the red and letting it sit for a bit before drinking. Chin chin!

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