A Clash of Cultures

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BL Ochman, the web guru was in London earlier this summer to address a conference. Hugh and BL met up after the conference and invited me to come along. We talked about Web 2.0, marketing, the Stormhoek
meme and life in London.

We were sipping our waters (and Hugh his scotch) when I said to BL, she really ought to sponsor a Stormhoek dinner. Her response was, “I don’t drink”, and from there we went down the path of “Why do you need to have wine at a Stormhoek dinner anyway?”, and then we came to the
idea, “Let’s have a Stormhoek dinner for people who don’t drink!”

We discovered this week that for some people in the wine business, this is their idea of a bad joke.

For lots of people who have done dinners, the dinners themselves have
been a lot less about the wine, and a lot more about how Stormhoek is
an example of how the web is changing the world. In fact, when we
first posted about the ‘100 Dinners’, I asked prospective sponsors to
select a topic for the dinner that was SPECIFICALLY not about the wine.

Andrea Rodenberg sponsored a dinner back in May, and she passed along
the text of a speech that she had written for the event. The full
speech is here, but here is an excerpt:

“…here is the first thing that the internet actually changes: our
relationship with the products we enjoy is no longer that of an
audience. It is now a conversation. Stormhoek is a wine company that
gets it. They have provided the wine tonight, not because they have
something to say to their customers, but because they are interested
in what we have to say. They want to participate, here and now, not in
the story they are making for us, but in the story that we make for

For us, a dinner without drinking Stormhoek is a natural thing. It’s
not ideal from a product trial, stimulation-of-demand-perspective.
But, unlike most wine people, we acknowledge that the whole world
doesn’t drink, but why can’t we fit into a little box in the minds of
those who don’t drink? To those people, why can we not ask the
question: How can Stormhoek fit into your life? For them, where
Stormhoek fits in may be an interest in web 2.0, marketing, packaging,
open source, the technical aspects of growing grapes or South
Africa… From our perspective, it’s all good. It’s not just about
“Please try our product”. It’s also about making a social gesture
[or “Ooze”, as Hugh calls it.]

So, for our friends in the trade who are afraid that we will offend the
non-drinkers of the world, we ask, why can’t Stormhoek be the wine
non-drinkers would drink, if they did?

It would be the ultimate compliment, really.


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