— blending the mix

Is the first instance of blog product-placement?

Stormhoek (the South African wine producer) promotes their wines with a powerfully popular blog and as such it has now been featured in the Sunday Telegraph today (thanks to Open for the link).

This is an incredible story in 2 ways:

1) Blogging itself has grown so much in volume and frequency in the last year (since Stormhoek began blogging in May 2005) that a company is now able to use it as a major tool to growth (in this case, achieving over 20% of South African wine sales over £5 in the UK).

2) That they have now found a way of using the blogoshpere to do their work for them (in the sense that their own blog pushes content into the blogoshpere and the following idea uses the blogoshpere to PULL their content)
Stormhoek’s 100 Geek Dinners in 100 Days idea is strella(r)! (warning – pun only likely to be moderately funny if a lager-drinking UK-resident!)

At the invitation-only wiki, approved attendees state their location and discussion topic for the dinner and wine is provided by Stormhoek – how simple!

The inevitable postings which will ensue (and linked to by hundreds of thousand of people) will no doubt mention Stormhoek, thereby creating an even bigger buzz around the brand.

As an advertising medium, can this genuinely be considered product placement or should it be seen as a cynical attempt to appeal to the taste buds of a few influential bloggers by giving away freebies?

I am erring on the side of clever product placement because surely the only other other ways of getting the brand visible on blogs would be direct (banner) advertising?

Hats off to Stormhoek!

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