Cape Town Tourism has the mandate to market Cape Town as a tourist destination. One wonders why its Communications and PR Manager Skye Grove did the PR for the ‘100 Women 100 Wines’ event held at the Table Bay Hotel on Saturday, when the event was not organised by Cape Town Tourism, and was a commercial venture which received sponsorship from Ultra Liquors!
Last year the event with the same name was criticised by the wine industry for its lack of credibility, for its sighted evaluation of the wines, even though sighted wine judging critic Neil Pendock was the co-organiser then too, for being ‘frivolous, patronising, and a joke’, and for its zero tourism impact. We asked then already why Cape Town Tourism had paid R20000 to the organisers of the event, which had no tourism benefit, having been heavily focused on attracting ‘Black Diamonds’ from Johannesburg. Last year the event was held over two days at the V&A Hotel, Tops at Spar being the main sponsor, and the 100 ladies were spoilt with dinner, lunches, and overnight accommodation.
One wonders then why Cape Town Tourism is the only ‘sponsor’ to have supported the event again, Tops at Spar, the airline, Destiny magazine, and the V&A Hotel having withdrawn their support. Ultra Liquors paid R120000 to sponsor the event this year, and Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold wrote that her organisation did not pay a sponsorship fee this year. What she did not reveal was that Grove was ‘managing the communications and publicity aspects of the event’, according to Clare McKeon- McLoughlin’s blogpost on Spill blog, at no compensation to Cape Town Tourism, in what would have been Cape Town Tourism time, one would assume! The event was not held in low season, which is what the industry was crying out for in winter. Mark Norrish, MD of Ultra Liquors, when warned about the organisers’ reputation, said that he had the McLoughlins and Pendock firmly under control, and that they had to follow his instructions. His financial contribution must have been far reduced to that received last year, as the event was only run over half a day, with no meals, there being only one mention on Twitter of canapés served at the event.
As there was no airline sponsor for the event this year, most attendees were from Cape Town, with a handful from other areas such as Stellenbosch, Somerset West, and Elgin. Once again one wonders why Cape Town Tourism was involved in an event which was largely attended by Capetonians, not making Marketing sense at all! Mrs Helmbold showed that she had no idea what her organisation was sponsoring, welcoming Capetonians to Cape Town on Twitter: “100 Women 100 Wines is the world’s first wine competition judged by women for women. Welcome to #CapeTown ladies! #100women“! Mrs Helmbold’s knowledge of wine terminology in the Cape Town Tourism media release is also embarrassingly poor: “100 Women 100 Wines is a welcome addition to Cape Town’s event landscape. It’s becoming a regular on the Cape Town calendar and is now an annual event that brings together women from different cultural backgrounds and demographic groups in order to celebrate the Cape’s great vine (sic) offerings at an unusual, fun-filled affair”.
While Ultra Liquors has grown its Social Media presence, it must be bitterly disappointed by the low Twitter coverage of the event, and the low Twitter following most attendees had, many having fewer than 10 Followers, with just four having more than 1000 Followers, @NatalieRoos with her close to 5000 Followers only Tweeting twice during the event. #CapeTownTourism was only Tweeted once! No media representatives attended the event this year, and there has been no post-event media coverage.
The publicity for the event did not indicate how the 100 wines were chosen for the event (in Tweets during the event there was regular reference to 350 wines, but this is not explained). The 100 wines were divided into categories, including ‘The Boss is Coming’, Sunny Day Wine’, After a Long Day at Work’, ‘Long Lunch’, and ‘Best Braai Wine’!
The wine industry paid scant attention to the event on Twitter. Calling the attendees ‘judges’ of the ‘Ultra Liquors 100 Women 100 Wines competition’, not selected on the basis of wine knowledge, is an insult to serious and professional wine competitions.
Surely Cape Town Tourism does not have a budget in time and money to support events of friends? Surely its job is to attract tourists to Cape Town? This sets a precedent and means that, in fairness to all event organisers in Cape Town, Cape Town Tourism should do the marketing for every event that is hosted in Cape Town for free! Cape Town Tourism received scant acknowledgement by the attendees for its role in the event, a marketing failure in itself for the tourism body.
POSTSCRIPT 16/11: Writing a comment on the Spill blog, Michael Olivier shows how out of touch he is, by commenting as follows: “So – when we having 100 wines, 100 boys? This is a good thing you are doing for the wine industry”. The wine industry has scarcely reacted to the wine event, it having no credibility!
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage