It’s not really about the web…

I was reading mynameiskate (which is fast becoming my VERY FAVORITE blog), and it took me to gapingvoid, a site written by Hugh MacLeod (who also helps to run a bespoke tailoring firm English Cut who coincidentally just made a suit for my friend Stewart), where I heard about this contest to help design a new wine bottle for a South African winery called Stormhoek and it got me very excited. You see, one of the things that Hugh MacLeod said to Stormhoek was “You’re not competing with Jacob’s Creek or Blossom Hill. You’re competing with Google and Microsoft and Apple and Skype.” Wow.

So I entered the contest, and this is what I wrote:

One of my favorite things to do with wine is bring it to someone else’s house. It spreads the word, and it’s a bottle that’s pretty sure to get drunk by a group of people who might not have purchased the wine before. This wine should be the most “give-away-able” wine in the store. It should become a story we can tell to each other at the time we drink it, and later, remembering.

To make it giveaway-friendly, I should be able to personalize it; make it a story I tell, not just a gift I bring:

  • A (mostly) blank label. Maybe it’s treated paper and you need a special pen, like those kids in the car drawing kits. or something like one of those kid’s drawing tablets that has a top layer you peel off to erase and start again?
  • A label that is “remembers” my hand-print as I carry it into the house – maybe heat sensitive label that “sets” after a few minutes of consistent contact with your hand? If it had a “mood ring” quality to it so that every hand print was a slightly different colour that would be great.
  • Each label is a clear sleeve into which I can put a photo. The launch of the new bottle design would somehow include an instant camera so the picture can be taken “before bottle is drunk” and “after bottle is drunk”. Give the recipient a reason to keep the bottle (and the branding) in their house afterwards.

The wine should be an ice-breaker; it should become a story we can tell to each other

  • Each label can be removed to create a cool and fun ice-breaker game. It could be enhanced by (but not require) a visit to the website. .
  • Each bottle comes with a USB key, that has some “limited edition” MP3s burned into ROM (along with the useful RAM, so it can be used as a regular USB key).
  • …or how about we get really crazy and make each bottle a disposable MP3 player itself? The electronics to do that are tiny now (think about $2.50 in volume – each bottle has a headphone jack and plays a different song. Bring a six-pack of 500ml bottles and you’re the bartender AND the DJ.

So the wine bottle becomes a web 2.0 application, hooking into and enhancing services and communities that already exist.

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