Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vinitaly Report: Italy’s Little (Social Network) Problem

From the "Will they ever get it?" department

Ok, I am going to go "all' Americano" on this one. I have been blogging my heart out for, oh, I don’t know, let’s say four years now. Seriously. The beat is Italy. Italian wine. I have gotten lucky and I have a good amount of people around the world coming to On the Wine Trail in Italy to read these posts. I am dialed into the industry, both in Italy and America. So what’s the deal with the knuckleheads who run things at Vinitaly? You know, the ones who put together seminars and decide topics, and such? At Vintialy those who make the decisions, decided it would be about time to finally put together a WINE AND SOCIAL NETWORKS seminar. So guys, why no love for the American bloggers?

Franco Ziliani got in touch with me early on and invited me and a slew of bloggers, Italian and American and from around the globe to his opening event in the Puglia pavilion on rosato wines. Someone knows that there are folks who write about Italian wine outside of the Italian culture and language. You now, the ones who help drive export sales and stimulate the Italian economy?
The internet is English centric, at least for the Western world. Hell, even the Chinese have figured out the “worldwide web” works better in English. I blog about Italian wine for four years now, have been a loyal Italian wine ambassador in America for 30 years. I’m an early adaptor, have figured out how to plug into Facebook, Twitter, Twitpic, Flickr, Friend Feed, Webshots. So who is in charge over at the press office at Vinitaly? Why did I find out about this event after it was all over? The internationally-inclusive nature of the seminar was, how do I say it, so very 19th century. Pirandello would be so proud of y'all.

Oh, niente signore. Farle vedere che se noi oltre la illusione non abbiamo altra realtà, è bene che anche lei diffidi della realtà sua, di questa che lei oggi respira e tocca in sé, perché – come quella di ieri – è destinata a scoprirlesi illusione domani.

I got on Twitter and asked around.

@ItalianWineGuy What's up with the knuckleheads who planned the #Vinitaly social media/blogging panel? What, don't American wine bloggers get invited?

These folks, Tweeted back:

@robbin_g and it was a complete snoozer!
@vinoiskeeno @italianwineguy it was ridiculous.
@WineOnTheRocks@italianwineguy Vinitaly and Organisation... not the best blend - uuuhhh, I mean - no comment!
Where was
@tirebouchon?@ViniSMargherita?@brunellomaker?@mondosapore?@slgold ?


Yes, where was Franco Zilia
ni? If anyone is the Alder Yarrow, Eric Asimov, Steve Heimoff, Dr Vino and Tom Wark all rolled up into one uber-Italian blogger, it has got to be Franco Ziliani – why wasn’t he invited, involved?
Italian bloggers Filippo Ronco of TigullioVino, Vinix and Giampiero Nadali of Aristide Blog were there. Hell, they were presenters. I even got a Re-Tweet from Giampiero as I was writing this – he’s plugged in!

Note to folks who make the decisions at Vinitaly: thanks for including the good old USA. Crawl out from inside your 19th Century cave and wake up to the new global world order. It’s flat – it’s transparent – and you all are failing. Time for another Risorgimento, people.

Funny how Italy looks to America to buy their wines, in good years and bad, in years of crisis and scandal as well as in years of plenty. Many an Italian wine consultant is driving around Italy in Maseratis and Porsche Cayennes, courtesy of the money they have made selling wine to America. It’s equally mystifying that Italy, once again, is myopic when it comes to learning about how these things work. Once again, Italy falls back into their outdated cultural pecking order, a world in which only the Alto-Borghese have anything of value to say and the rest of us folks down below, the Terrones, are there to simply shut up and serve their masters.

Shame on all y’all. I give Vinitaly an “F” on their report card for the lame WINE AND SOCIAL NETWORKS seminar they held. As we say in good old America, “F ‘em Danno!”


Hande said...

oh, Alfonso...
I have this Italian wine school in Rome where every year I teach, in a fun way, thousands of American tourists that Italian wine is more than Chianti and Pinot Grigio (nothing against those two, but you know what I mean). Am an ambassador of Italian wines, like you are. A lot of Italian wine people/organizations know about me - do you think anyone ever asked me to do something for them, to represent them somewhere where good English skills would be needed?
Forget about it. The Italian authorities are sleeping.

Marco Latifondista said...

I'm surprised that you are still flabbergasted at Italian insouciance. Hey, at least you moved up from #82 to #18 in the world wide web wine blogger rankings. Time for some Riesling.

Alex said...

Alfonso, I feel your pain. Italy is bloody terrible at marketing itself.

Such a great shame. Italian wines are excellent and the potential for export sales is enormous, I'm 1000% certain.

As Hande observed, the Italian government is sleeping. Madness - especially in times of difficulty.

The tourism sector is the same - marketing is dire. Total and utter insanity.

Yours, frustratedly,

Alex - who tries to market Italy in a wee small way.

Tracie P. said...

from the "duh" department: the answer is no.

maybe they just felt good about themselves to have offered a seminar with that title, regardless of its actual relevance.

Wink Lorch said...

I can so relate to this, Alfonso, I think it's not much different in most of France. Not just about social-media issues but about 'getting' anything media orientated if it's not "I am employed to write for xyz journal and have an article to write on 123 for the xxx10 issue".

Having lived part-time in France for 18 years and having written regularly on the - albeit lesser regions - of Jura and Savoie for 8 years, they still forget to ask me to attend events choosing instead only to invite Paris-based journalists for examples, or indeed Americans if the 'intiative' is aimed towards Americans and therefore not Brits based in France. What have they got to lose by spreading the net wider?

As for bloggers, well yes, with notable explanations just as you have in Italy, to most regional or official organsiations it's explaining what a blogger is.

So yesterday morning, I commented in French for the first time on a French food and wine blog (relating mainly to my local region of Savoie). Then I tweeted "Bravely commented in French on a French blog, but it hasn't been approved yet (wonder if it will take as long as everything else in France?)" and got an @ reply from @DomaineLisson based in France but who blogs in French/German and English "I guess, yes!" ... So 16 hours later, I'm still waiting for my comment to be approved.

Yes, I feel your pain too, and don't believe it's confined to Italians. The French are just as backward, methinks.

Samantha Dugan said...

I was reading through your post nodding and thinking, "Oh Alfonso it's not just the Italians" and then come here to find Wink's comment about my beloved but sometimes dismissive French. So yeah, what Wink said....

thor iverson said...

So guys, why no love for the American bloggers?

It's my fault. ;-)

But yes. It's just a wholesale rejection of all sorts of things we take for granted. I was reminded of another way this manifests when I was setting up my most recent jaunt to Alsace. I contacted seven wineries via email, well in advance, just to see if anyone would answer. Of course Trimbach did, because they've got a staff for this. François Sorg did, eventually. The rest? Might as well not have bothered. But if I'd sent faxes...faxes, for God's sake...they'd have answered immediately.

Thomas said...

Give the Italians time. After all, they are the ones who introduced traveling salesmen in the early Middle Ages, thereby removing the need to carry all the goods to the annual Champagne fair. They are creative and they do get there, just not in their own lifetime.

Unknown said...

Why wasn't mondosapore there?

1. He was too busy.

2. I don't wanna talk about social media. I live it, baby.

Michele Connors said...

Facebook is big here, though. But socially - Twitter not so much, but regardless these things are not used by many businesses. The Italian wine world is ironically more wired than the rest of the industries - you're hard pressed to find a business with a website here. Sometimes not even a correct listing. I have found the bottom line is that they just don't care about making the sale. Very hard for us Americans to understand. They don't care about promotion, it's for the underlings, as Alfonso said. The "terroni" can do all that work.
I don't ask too many questions after 3 years in Italy. My expectations are shockingly low. Otherwise my head may have exploded already.

Unknown said...

Alfonso thank you for your words about me. You are TOO kind. Please no commentary by me about this Vinitaly little social network...

Michele Connors said...

Here's what a Vinitaly rep ("brand manager" has to say about blogs in general getting press credentials:

So advanced! Cutting edge!

Real Time Analytics