In the end, it’s all about who gets to sit at the cool kids’ table.
Cultivating snob appeal can be a valid marketing ploy, there’s no question. There are plenty of pretty good wines that thrive on a business plan of charging hundreds of dollars a bottle, severely limiting production, and telling almost everyone in the world they can’t get it even if they want it and are willing to pay for it.
FINE Exclusive is a magazine that is trying to apply that business model to publishing. FINE Exclusive will provide…
…the most comprehensive and up-to-date knowledge of fine wine in the world with award-winning visual design. It is a quarterly fine wine magazine with a minimum of 164 pages.
Only 5,000 subscriptions are available. You have to be invited to subscribe. Once you’re invited, a subscription costs €500, or €125 per issue. Once you’ve paid your subscription, you can order covers customized to your liking, which reminds me somehow of those coffee mugs people get with pictures of their grandchildren on them, or of the desire arrivistes have to monogram all their clothes, apparently due to residual fear that one’s underpants will get lost in the camp laundry.
FINE Exclusive is brought to you by the same people who created Fine Wine magazine, which can be bought at “2,400 select retailers” across the United States. Fine Wine is lushly designed, though it’s a little thin on information. I bought a copy six months ago, was impressed by the moodiness of the photography and found absolutely nothing in it that was interesting enough to read all the way through. That lack of substance is not unusual in magazine start-ups. Early issues are wildly over-thought and the people making decisions about funding and content are too busy to actually read the articles. They look at pages on boards attached to conference room walls, drinking-in the award-winning visual design and moody photography before going out to a self-congratulatory lunch.
Presumably, FINE Exclusive will spend a little more money generating words instead of blowing its whole budget on pictures. They’re creating their own version of the Wine Spectator 100-Point Scale™, which they call the “Fine Wine and Drinkability Index,” drinkability being something that figures prominently in Bud Light commercials so the marketing department might want to rethink that little nugget of branding. Still, it’s something that at least implies “information,” and that’s a step in the right direction.
I’ve got the feeling FINE Exclusive is going to be a wine industry equivalent of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine, idle chatter across a two-top in a restaurant you’ll never get into, with premier crus instead of celebrities.
Anyway, if you’re interested in subscribing, you can’t, and if you’d like to find what’s inside of it, they won’t tell you. It’s high school all over again, and no matter what you do you’re never going to get to the cool kids’ table. At least this time it’s nothing personal; it’s just marketing.
The original Marketing as Self-Parody posting can be seen here.