Jourdan on #WineWednesday / On Pesticides and Crisis Communication in ‪‎Bordeaux‬


(This post “On Pesticides and Crisis Communication in ‪‎Bordeaux‬” was written by Guillaume Jourdan*)​

Last week in French magazines, today in international newspapers. The influencial FORBES magazine has just published “Pests And Pesticides In The Gironde’s € 4 Million Wine Business“. How to avoid damaging the image of Bordeaux and its wines? A major issue for a leading region known internationally ​for the production of fine wines.

Such a crisis is probably one of the hardest communication issue to manage, as their impact often puts the organization at risk of “image deterioration”.​ Crisis management? What crisis? Do you remember the traces of benzene found in Perrier bottles in 1990: it had a long-term negative impact on the sales of the carbonated water and its image has been severely damaged. The procedure of global product recall, in fact inaugurated by Perrier at that time, is currently frequently used by companies in similar situations. Another recent example: the crisis of Renault’s electronic cruise controls which put some customers off the road. In this case, the product was so innovative and complex that it required a learning to use it that was not always obvious for consumers. How to explain to your customers that they do not understand how to use your product ? At the time, this has led the company to rethink the handover of their cars, and Renault is now recognized for its excellence in terms of customers service, especially when the car is delivered.​ And Coravin? The company – its system allows wine lovers to drink a glass of wine without opening the bottle – has had to issue a safety notice after seven complaints of bottles bursting.​​

​In fact, there are many cases. And the Hoax – false, outdated or unverifiable information spread spontaneously by web users – contribute today to emphasize these crises or even to create them . They take advantage of the power and speed of the internet to spread rumors​. Two years ago, Vitabella Luxury Wine published the “#crisiscom@worldofwine​” report in collaboration with Jean -Philippe Couvy, specialist in crisis management. While a large majority of VitaBella Luxury Wine’s clients is not publicly traded and, therefore, do not see their value immediately impacted by the mismanagement of a communication crisis, it is now essential for wine estates, châteaux and wine brands to care about crisis communication. Why ? Because their image and their future valorization are both involved.

The causes of a crisis for a wine brand are not only related to the nature of what is found in our glass. It would be too simplistic ! The list of risks and, consequently, of potential crises can quickly become very important when trying to identify them. Of course this list will vary from one property to another, depending on the context as well. Moreover these risks do not all have the same importance. This is not surprising, but it is important to know them better as they can be the causes of future crises. Good risk management is a great tool to anticipate the onset of crisis.

(*Since 2003, Guillaume Jourdan has been advising more than 200 prestigious wine estates for their international marketing & communication strategy incl. Chapoutier, Hugel, Dr Loosen, Famille Perrin, Cos d’Estournel, Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie’s Miraval…Write to​