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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Branded wines are in danger of becoming like soft drinks - oversimplistic, and formulaic - according to Mike Paul, managing director of Western Wines. Speaking at the Wine Intelligence Leading Thinkers' Group Dinner on 24 September in London, Paul said: Marketing people are making all wines look the same. Chile, California, Australia - they are all interchangeable.' Paul spoke after Dominic Riley - founder of, the UK's most successful female- targeted Internet business', and a head of marketing for BBC online and interactive TV - who had given a presentation on Segment Target Positioning (STP) as the basis for the round-table discussion. Riley cited the Evening Standard newspaper as a product targeted specifically at commuters. Moving on to the marketing of cars, he added: Some people are obsessed with what is under the bonnet while the Mini is just sexy. You can be overcomplex [with your marketing]. Find out where the fastest growth in consumption is. Then define your proposition with a view to fishing where the fish are. Think simple: "Red is for X and white is for Y".' Allan Webb - general manager of beers, wines and spirits for Sainsbury's - said that a lot of wine marketing was not marketing at all - It's just apeing what the others are doing.' Jason Haynes, director of OW Loeb, was sceptical about marketing, believing that wine is aspirational and that quality is more important than in other product categories. Referring to Burgundy, he said: Wine is more aspirational than most products, more about what is in the glass. Was it sunny or raining that year? That is what is exciting about wine. If it comes down to "the market", it will kill itself. We need more education - marketing is about lies.' Paul countered by saying Burgundy is a brilliant marketing story People pay high prices for it, but every other bottle of Burgundy you buy is disappointing. There is too much rubbish, too much not worth a third of the price.'