Starting tomorrow and running through Saturday, January 13th, HBO will be providing free bottles of ‘Rome‘ Cabernet Sauvignon at select Italian restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to promote the second season of their series of the same name. The promotion is being run by Lime Public Relations & Promotions who’s President was quoted remarking, “The show is all about indulgence, and we just felt this was a great way to bring to life one of the key aspects of the story line.”
The wine is a California bottling with a private label due to a logistical problem of not being able to find an Italian producer (what’s with that?). I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to the agency but it’s clear that a wine lover was not involved thinking this promotion through. For example, if I was consulted on this, I would have immediately contacted some California wineries that produce Italian varieties such as Sangiovese that would have tied into the show closer. The whole “indulgence” angle also bothers me for a couple reasons. First, in the context of a TV series centered on ancient Rome, it implies over indulgence. I also think this is a bit of a dated view of wine as a luxury item and not a part of a lifestyle that ancient, and current, Romans enjoy.
I do think this will create some additional exposure for the show but I don’t think it will create the kind of buzz that other wine promotions have in the recent past. It will certainly be a nice surprise for some diners and, if the wine is good, help the brand but the sample size will be too small for any meaningful impact.
Since I don’t live in any of the cities where this campaign will run, I will not be able to report on the wine. If you happen to be in one of the restaurants and take advantage of the promo, post your notes here. It will be interesting to see if any big city wine bloggers or writers cover this story…
Update 1/10: Dr. Vino has posted about this story; since you live in NYC, why not try the wine, Tyler? On second thought, you are probably right that it’s not worth the effort 😉