If you’ve ventured out into social media this week then there’s really only been one wine story to bother yourself with. No, not how the wine industry is tackling this global pandemic, but rather the Twitter furore there has been over Hollywood A lister Cameron Diaz deciding this is the moment the world needs to know all about her new ‘clean wine’ brand – Avaline. Here Joe Fattorini – in his typically brilliant, biting and witty way – takes the Diaz naysayers to task and makes the case for why Diaz and her ‘clean wine’ is actually marketing genius.
Film actress Cameron Diaz has probably not lost much sleep over much of the wine industry’s response to her ‘clean wine’ brand, but Joe Fattorini believes as a piece of marketing it’s worthy of an Oscar.
Much debate centred on her appropriation of the term “clean”. It led to a word association free-for-all with comparisons to coffee, design and eating. For my money “clean” makes me think of “and jerk”. A combo sure be one of those “product and shopper” archetypes in a Wine Intelligence insights report in 2021.
Others were keen to know what Avaline tasted like. Which is a bit like enquiring after the support properties of a peephole bra. It’s not an unreasonable question, but hardly the point. The verdict seemed to be that it wasn’t unpleasant. But that without its “clean” branding and the endorsement of an A List Hollywood superstar, Avaline might not command quite such a price premium on taste alone. Elsewhere in this incisive Wine Intelligence report you’ll find cutting edge analysis on bear toiletting and what the Pope does on a Sunday morning.
Others who well and truly missed the point suggested the whole thing was “just marketing”. This is the school of thought that describes marketing as “the colouring-in department” and proudly sends emails saying “I’m not personally influenced by advertisements” above a signature that declares “sent from my iPhone” (true story).
(You can judge for yourself what Cameron Diaz and her business partner Katherine Power mean about clean wine in this YouTube clip below)
Masterclass in marketing
Avaline is in truth a masterclass on the power of great marketing. The genius of calling this “clean wine” would have been obvious to the linguist Nikolai Troubetzkoy (1890 – 1938) and the Structuralist anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss (1908 – 2009). They understood the world through binary oppositions. Good vs evil. Raw vs cooked. And, yep, clean vs dirty. What’s important here is not that Avaline is clean. It’s that automatically every other wine isn’t. Avaline doesn’t sell a message about its own brilliance. It uses what the Ancient Greeks would have called “marketing by apophasis”. “I will not make pesticides and additives an issue of this campaign” says Diaz like a hot, female Ronald Reagan. “I am not going to exploit for commercial purposes the 70 unlisted poisons, carcinogens and fish innards my competitors add to their wines.”
It becomes a shortcut. A heuristic oozing with cultural resonance. Every shopper who has seen more Disney films than WSET lectures (which is almost all of them) can now pick out Cinderella from a supermarket shelf of ugly sisters. Or rather Princess Fiona. It doesn’t matter if Avaline tastes like a Shrek’s belly button. What’s important is the message that goodness radiates from within. You don’t choose Avaline from a nuanced selection of alternatives, all with their own merits and failings. You choose it to declare your moral rectitude. You might think it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that some people consider specific wines morally enhancing. But take a moment to look at what the Pope actually does every Sunday morning. With her transubstantiated Avaline, Cameron Diaz is a new wine Pope. Although probably not the first to do that thing with their hair.
Avaline isn’t really Catholic. It’s Manichean. Occupying a world divided into absolutes and opposites. Clean and dirty. Good and evil. Black and white. It’s a wine that claps on Thursdays, takes the knee, and knows that trans rights are human rights. Today’s moral certainty works in the frictionless vacuum of cyber space. Barefoot, you’re JK Rowling in bottled form. Look carefully and you can see Steven Pinker walking through the vineyards of Beaune.
Watch out dirty wine. You’re about to be cancelled.