Friday, July 17, 2009

Good for Goode and Martin Sargent

Cutting Martin Sargent before the top 50 was the best thing that could have happened to Martin Sargent or Murphy-Goode.

As soon as he threw his hat into the ring, the few people I knew who were following the contest who knew who he was (which was not many) immediately assumed he’d get the job and stopped paying attention. They tuned out. Stopped voting. Stopped caring. Was that good for Murphy-Goode?

If they knew they weren’t going to hire him, which they obviously did, what good would keeping him around have done? Sure, his small loyal following would have stayed interested, but at that point the “buzz” factor was out of the picture. Voting clearly didn’t count anymore. Instead more-and-more people would have assumed he was going to get the job, especially if he then moved on to the top 10. If the public perceived there was no contest, there would be no buzz.

But then he wouldn’t have gotten the job. If the backlash was this big for him not making the first cut, imagine the backlash if he’d been cut later? If this was a PR nightmare, that would have been a PR armageddon.

Instead, they cut him before the top 50 rather than string him along. The resulting backlash has put both him and Murphy-Goode in the public eye far longer than hiring him would have. While cutting him early allows the backlash to fade before the winner is announced. This way both of them get publicity. Both of them have their names put in front of the eyes of far more people than Martin’s fan base, and more eyes are watching to see who will ultimately win.

While the SFGate article correctly points out that “wacky was not a disqualifier” taking the job seriously was. Martin’s video does not take the job seriously. He just sits there with a bottle of cheap wine smugly saying in so many words “hire me because I’m great”. If he hadn’t had a rabid following of fans, would anyone have voted for it? Did anyone who’d never heard of him vote for it? He could’ve submitted a video of himself clipping his toenails and his fanboys would’ve voted him to the top of the list. Would he still have deserved to win?

The job was not just about creating buzz, but about telling “the world about our wines and the place where we live”, about telling “people what you’re learning about winemaking.” His video did not demonstrate he was in any way capable of doing those things. Perhaps he did in his blog, but why not include some of that sincerity in his video?

Beyond that, the focus here is meant to be Murphy-Goode, not the contest winner. Had Martin Sargent been given the job, he would have overshadowed the winery itself while simultaneously limiting the scope of the project’s reach. It would have been about him, not the wine, not Sonoma. How many people outside of his loyal following would have paid any attention to him if he’d gotten the job? How many of his loyal fans would have started buying Murphy-Goode wine and kept buying it after the job ended? I suppose we will never know, but focusing $60,000 of advertising at a cult figure’s cult following does not particularly seem like a wise investment to me.

(Photo Credit)

1 comment:

  1. I thought the point of their contest was to find someone who could help them get a presence in social media, etc? If he had of won, he probably would have doe a rather good job of getting them publicity on the web (twitter, facebook, blogs, etc) plus his "rabid fan base" would have probably also followed his wine-education. It probably would have worked well for the rest of us who aren't wine snobs (like a good chunk of the top 50 are). and we may have followed along to learn more about wine & their region. (I'd never heard of them until I saw his video)

    But no, they went all wine-snob and ignore the public. Good job. FAIL.


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