Emoji madness: Drink what you type
August 9, 2018
It may seem silly to you, but a mid-summer tussle has riled the world of wine marketing. All the folks of my ilk, that is to say wine writers, have their keyboards in a twist trying to come up with clever words to either suggest their cynicism, express their support or simply verbally giggle about a marketing driven campaign to establish a white wine emoji.
And I'll bet you already thought there was a white wine emoji. I mean, there seems to be an emoji for everything else, right? Even broccoli has its own cute emoji.
So I am sure that you just assumed that if you needed to illustrate your emails, tweets or texts with a little something extra to give a shout-out to white wine ("You bring red, I'll bring white!" White wine emoji here.) that it would be easily found on the keyboard of your phone.
Well, evidently not.
It turns out that, as of today, the official emoji vetting body, that would be a nonprofit organization called the Unicode Consortium based in Mountain View, California, has yet to sanction an emoji specifically for white wine. There is one for red wine and a sparkling/Champagne bottle emoji. But, as of this writing, those who wish to use a white wine emoji have nowhere to turn.
Hence the kerfuffle. Seeing a social need and current injustice, three separate wineries, it would appear Flora Springs and Fetzer were the first, followed by Kendall-Jackson, began campaigns to establish an emoji that would one day be on computer and smartphone keyboards featuring a glass of white wine. Separate applications were filed with the Unicode Consortium Emoji Subcommittee to include a white wine emoji in their list of "Foods and Drinks" (yes that is a separate category of approved emojis) that will be voted on next spring.
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Now Flora Springs, a Napa-based family-owned winery, filed a petition in May that was followed by a larger petition (15 pages!) from Kendall-Jackson, a Sonoma-based, much larger, family-owned winery. In June, Craig Cummings, of the all-powerful Unicode Consortium Emoji Subcommittee, wrote to the parties to say that the Kendall-Jackson application was the one that would be used going forward to present the arguments for a white wine emoji.
While one would expect that "ownership" issues would be in play, it seems, according to Kendall-Jackson's news release on the matter, that all sides are now on the same side in their common quest for justice. In the Press missive dated Aug. 1, 2018 and titled "Kendall-Jackson Leads the Charge for the White Wine Emoji," the second-to-last line states, well, quietly that, "Two notable California wineries, Fetzer and Flora Springs, have already partnered with Kendall-Jackson to help get the viral conversation started."
OK. I guess that settles that.
This all occurred last week because Aug. 4 was "White Wine Day." I know, it's just a dubious marketing ploy to provide makers with a day and way to send out cute emails encouraging tastings, gatherings and most of all purchases of white wine. But nonetheless it provided a catalyst for the launch of the white wine emoji campaign. I don't know how many signatures or likes were generated in support, but as I said earlier, from Forbes to USA Today to the Wine Spectator to, yes, even this column, wine scribes were reporting dutifully on the white wine emoji.
I guess you could call that success.
In today's world, digital media and social marketing are the touchstones for not just winemakers but for marketing of any product.
Me, I miss the days when the grand gesture was the way to move markets. The days when winemaking promoters like Georges Duboeuf could come up with a concept like "Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!" and fly the first fruits of the new vintage to New York via the Concorde for the initial release at midnight of the young wines.
Alas, there is a no longer a Concorde and I'm sure the makers of Beaujolais Nouveau will gaze with envy when the white wine emoji makes its debut in 2019 if it passes muster.
But I must admit the concept and the application for the emoji are impressive. You can go to http://www.whitewineemoji.net to find a copy of the proposal or if you wish to participate in the Twitter-sphere the place to be is #WhiteWineEmoji.
It may not change the world, but it may sell more chardonnay.
Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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