October 27, 2007
“social objects”: blue monster wine update
For reasons unknown to me, suddenly in the last week the orders for Stormhoek Blue Monster Reserve have started flooding in, especially from Microsoftees in the USA. Rock on.
I’m getting on the case this week… if you’ve already contacted me about this, expect to be hearing from either me or my colleague, Tessa Soole in the next week or two. Thanks.
Some random thoughts:
1. I came up with the Blue Monster wine idea, as a exercise in creating a “Social Object”. What the heck, Theory is all very well, but actual real-life commercial execution is a lot more fun and interesting. I’m just lucky to have the groovy cats at Stormhoek who let me try out these crazy ideas.
[My friend, Alison with a Blue Monster lithograph in her office.]
2. Earlier this year I created another Blue Monster social object, namely, the limited edition lithographs. I only made a thousand of them, and they went fast. As I didn’t want to print more of them [that would’ve cheapened the first edition], I had to come up with something else, something that could scale beyond one thousand people. Since I’m in the wine business, and since I had already been making cartoon labels for Stormhoek wine, it wasn’t too much of a stretch.
3. The Blue Monster wine is also part of the “Smarter Wine” conversation. The main thesis is that it’s not the wine per se that is interesting, it’s the conversations that happen around the wine that is interesting. And that is true for all social objects. People matter. Objects don’t.
4. If the Blue Monster wine idea is interesting, it’s because of a most unlikely mash-up between a small, obscure winery in South Africa, and the world’s largest software company. But it’s this very unlikelihood, this very unlikely swapping of Cultural DNA between two very different companies, that gives it its mojo.
5. Importing different Cultural DNA into an organization is a real balancing act. Too much of it makes it impossible for the company to focus. Too little and the company withers on the vine.
6. BL Ochman has a really good summation of the BM wine story here.
What’s important is that a lone blogger with a good idea was able to get a huge company to listen to him and to adopt one of his fairly radical ideas. It shows that social media is a viable force for change, for marketing, and for the new media than a lot of big companies may now finally begin to take seriously.
7. When thinking about applying social media to companies, “What social media tools should we use” should not be the first question. “How do we wish to talk to people differently” should be the first question. If you don’t have an answer to this, quit your job and go find something else.
8. None of this stuff is rocket science. Most of it is glaringly obvious. And sadly for folks working in the social software industry, “The people who get it, don’t need us. And the people who need us, don’t get it.” Which is why being a “blog consultant” or whatever is a lot less lucrative and rewarding than people often think.
9. I recently received the following e-mail:
As much as I like the Blue Monster, does it really matter in the grand scheme of things? I mean, we both know that no matter how big the Blue Monster gets, Microsoft is still going to continue being “evil”, and its software is still going to continue to suck. And no blogging cartoonist is ever going to change that.
Well, Dave, your low opinion of Microsoft notwithstanding, I’m not looking at this from the executive level. I’m coming at this from the perspective of a small-time cartoonist with a blog and an internet connection. And from where I’m standing, it seems to me that in a big company like Microsoft, even a small thing like the Blue Monster can create a lot of value for a lot of people. Not getting too carried away in the Expectation Department is what will keep things interesting.
10. No, I have no idea of where all this is going. All I care about these days is drawing cartoons, doing interesting things with interesting people, paying my bills, and keeping my sorry ass out of the hospital, the mental asylum, the morgue etc.
"Hugh's Daily Cartoon" Newsletter. A new cartoon sent out every weekday morning to your inbox [RSS version here.]. A wee chuckle to start your day off right etc.