Chatting with Ben Bouckley at Wine Vision, a high level wine conference held this week at the Hurlingham Club in London, Cronk discussed the delightfully simple shoot (watch it below) that solves the desperate dilemma of those millions lucky enough to own a nice bottle of wine and a smartphone, but unlucky enough to lack a corkscrew.
“I practiced it, then I did the real thing. Went upstairs, had a shave and put a shirt on – got it down to 50 seconds. I think it worked because it’s useful,” (Stephen Cronk, owner, Mirabeau En Provence)
The video features Cronk using a leather brogue shoe to open a bottle of wine – and, disarmingly simple though it appears, he tells us he took a long time to finesse his marketing approach, in a wine world where glossy, over-produced, expensive and, quite frankly, bum numbingly dull shoots are the norm.
“It was my 222nd video. I’d been trying to engage with consumers in a fun way for the best part of four years. Then I seemed to strike gold totally fortuitously,” Cronk says, explaining that he started out trying to talk to the wine trade in his videos, but now speaks directly to the consumer.
“I’d seen someone else do the same video – how to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew, but that particular video was four minutes long, rather boring, and hence not sharable,” he says.
“I practiced it, then I did the real thing. Went upstairs, had a shave and put a shirt on – got it down to 50 seconds. I think it worked because it’s useful,” Cronk adds.
“A lot of people have been in a situation where they haven’t got a corkscrew. It’s short, and it’s sharable. It just went mad – it’s been great.”
Although viral video fame didn’t have a massive impact on the top line – Mirabeau was already a successful small wine business that counted high-end UK grocer Waitrose as a customer, for instance – Cronk says its impact was amazing in different ways.
“It’s given me really good SEO, a good subscription base for my YouTube channel. That’s what I need to build on now, give consumers more content,” he says.
Explaining how his approach to marketing differs from standard Provencal producers of Rose, Cronk insists that marketing wines is not something you simply do once a year, but is a continual process.
“Yes, I make quality wines, but I don’t just make wines – I try to engage with the consumer. I know 670 producers and negociants [wine merchants] just in my region,” he says.
“I needed to differentiate. My story, as an Englishman who moved his wife and three children to live in France, is an element of the story.
“In order for that story to be told, I have to create a force of advocates who like it enough to tell it. So it’s all part of trying to get the brand out there, differentiate. But I need to point out that I take my wine very seriously, even if I don’t take myself or my wine videos very seriously at all!”