Charming. Diet wine, pitched to women by playing to their insecurities:
This off-the-mark targeting reaches its full height with White Lie, Beringer Blass’ new lower-calorie, lower-alcohol wine for women. The marketing of this Chardonnay revolves around the maxim “a little white lie never hurt anyone.” Minor fibs like “My hair is naturally this color,” are printed on the red label under the White Lie name, in florid cursive, and an additional lie—”But it was on sale”; “I can’t wait for football season”—is offered on each cork. The company has even enlisted the talents of chick-lit author Jennifer Weiner (Good in Bed; In Her Shoes) to pen an endorsement of the wine and judge its promotional short-story contest.
Great. It’s the Chick Lit of wines.
In an interview with Business Week, Beringer Blass exec Tracey Mason offers the explanation, “We’re having fun by winking at ourselves.” But the line between Sex & the City cheeky and total denigration is a tenuous one, and it doesn’t take a genius to assess which side White Lie’s marketing strategy falls on. For their part, the makers argue that they are just giving women what they want. According to the press release, the creative team behind White Lie discovered that “an astounding 80 percent of women are dissatisfied with their appearance and that 45 percent are on a diet on any given day. And because of the increased demands of career and home, women have less time than ever for themselves or their friends.” In the press release, Mason also explains that “We wanted women to feel better about themselves and their choices, realizing that often our desire to have it all means we have to give up something in return: that yummy dessert, the book we’ve been meaning to read, or just sharing a laugh with friends over a few glasses of wine.”
Sure, let’s give women what they want: more reinforcement for their body-image issues! Self-denial! Tasteless swill!
We purchased a $9.99 bottle of White Lie at Chelsea Wine Vault and brought it over to the beverage director at Gramercy Tavern, Juliette Pope, for a little blind taste testing. While Pope found it “pleasant,” she admitted, “that’s just it. There’s nothing left, which is the mark of an inexpensive wine. It’s inoffensive, but lacking in character. It’s not interesting or lasting.” While she thought that many people would find it perfectly fine, “for any kind of serious wine drinker, this does not cut it. It’s harmless, but you can do better for $10 with some qualified help in a wine store.”
Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but wine in general is fairly low in calories and sugar, especially the drier varieties. Unless you’re gargling with the stuff, it’s not going to make you fat. So what’s the point of making a lite wine that’s targeted to women? Money.
As far as we’re concerned, we find the way in which it’s being marketed even more egregious than the fact that it is both inferior-tasting and created for women. Only one thing is more depressing than a wine that shamelessly plays into feminine stereotypes and insecurities: a wine that shamelessly plays into feminine stereotypes and insecurities—and sells well.
And that’s just it, isn’t it? Sex sells, but so does insecurity, especially that of women — and especially about their weight. Light beer, which has historically been marketed to both men and women, is usually marketed as less filling, or lower in carbs, or lower in alcohol so that it doesn’t slow you down. The message there is that you’re an active guy, you do things, you want to stay sharp.
This advertising, though — it’s all about keeping your weight down like a good girl and being feminine so that you can be attractive to men. Instead of getting women to embrace wine and appreciate it for their own pleasure, this label would rather make a crappy product that they can sell based on anxiety. And the sad thing is, it’ll probably turn into the Snackwell’s of wine and make a ton of money.
- Misunderstanding Anorexia by Jill April 3, 2006