Excerpt from Been Doon So Long
Doon to Earth | page 260
In 2009, two years after the sale of Big House and Cardinal Zin brands, there is still considerable confusion about what precisely has been sold and exactly who or what constitutes Bonny Doon in its current incarnation. Most disturbingly, it now appears to be karmic payback time after my years of pushing the envelope, marketing- and promotion-wise. The wines we are now producing are much better and more “serious” – if by that we mean as winegrowers we are more focused and attentive – but I fear my reputation as a jocular marketeer may forever-doom (or doon) my chances of the world ever taking the wines themselves seriously.1 Our distributor in New York somewhat facetiously suggested that I consider taking out an advertisement in the Wine Spectator to dispel the confusion within the industry about the company, with the ancillary benefit of improving diplomatic relations with the Spectator. I was nervous about taking out the ad for a number of reasons – it was quite dear for a winery our size, seemed to be advertising was that you were in trouble.
The piece was revised numerous times. When I first wrote it, I attempted to channel the spirit of Robert Crumb (in the vague and unrealistic hope that I might persuade him to draw the strip). The early versions were perhaps a bit too raw, self-deprecating, and self-revelatory.2 Maybe a little too self-consciously, I ended up toning it down more than I should have. I had tried to make the case that many company was really all about transparency, and it seemed that a little brutal honesty would likely be well appreciated. Or not.
Crumb was, not surprisingly, unavailable, but we were fortunate to find a wonderful cartoonist in Ed Piskor. Ed was infinitely patient with my unending requests for revisions, and in the end of the strip, shown in the following spread, turned out great, with a lot of fine detail. The strip ran, and the Wine Spectator loved it. We turned it into a lovely poster, and many customers called us to obtain a copy. But it did not seem to drive sales a whit, one very important metric of how one’s brand is valued. Maybe there is more karma to be worked out. Alternative explanation: people are now too absorbed in their own problems to pay much attention to almost anything that does not hit them squarely over the head. (FALL 2008)
Read Randall’s latest blog entry.
- I expect that on my deathbed, as I gather my last breath, my protestation that “this time I’m serious” will be perfunctorily dismissed as a mere attention-getting device. [↩]
- There was a great panel in an early version that had me sitting at a table in a restaurant, dishes piled high in front of me, gesturing to the serve that I was stuffed to the gills. The caption read: “Lately, wherever I go, people are incredibly nice to me, but sometimes I feel they regard me as an interesting historical artifact, unaware that we’re making the best wines we’ve ever made.” The footnote to the panel read, in the best Crumbian confessional style, “I love getting free food in restaurants.” Well, of course I do; everyone does. I now feel bad that I suppressed this panel; my friends who were only trying to help, had advised me that, in such a public venue, I should try not to appear to be overly, venal, nor convey my insecurities about how I am now perceived in the wine marketplace. And yet I feel that I have missed a great opportunity to connect with our customers by not sharing these vulnerabilities. [↩]