Eighteen years ago I came up with an ad layout for Torres wine while working at an ad agency that held the account. It was one of three concepts I developed that I felt really proud of—so much so that I’ve consistently shown the rough comp in my portfolio at practically every job interview since then.
The challenge was to present this venerable and perhaps even overlooked Spanish vintner as something hot and sexy, particularly because the Olympics were to take place in Barcelona two years later.
As a message, sexy is great with wine. Calling a wine new? Not so much. Given my Latin-American background, I felt a kinship with this project and my conquistador forebears. It seemed clear to me that the real challenge of this project was to present a Spanishness as represented or contained in Torres wine. If you want a really good, reliable table wine, Torres is a great deal. Like so many other winemakers, Torres also had its share of prizewinners, but the challenge presented to us was to present Torres in a fresh way through mass marketing.
There are several things I attempted to do with this layout. One was to present the product in a different way. Instead of showing the bottle straight-on, why not shoot it from an angle that suggests actually being next to it? This perspective suggests that the bottle is already on your table.
The other thing was to have copy that had nothing to do with selling the wine, but instead was more of a poetic portrait of Spain.
In this concept the bottle is open, the wine is being consumed and there are wine rings staining the table top—these images are all intended to make this seem more like a snapshot of the customer’s life instead of a product shot.
Having the copy slightly obstructed underneath the bottle and glass was intended to invite the reader to engage with this ad instead of passively observing it.
It occurred to me recently that I should try to tighten this comp with the tools and resources that are now second nature to me. On the right is the 1990 comp and the 2008 version of the same idea, with some small adjustments, thanks to the availability of Photoshop and a digital camera. Distorting the copy block seemed to help reinforce the effect that the bottle is indeed in front of you at your table.
Advertising is not the process of merely placing a message in front of enough eyeballs enough times, hoping to make the sales curve rise. Advertising is about building a relationship with your customers by treating them as human beings. Presenting things in a slightly different way reinforces the additional component of your message that says that you’re actually acknowledging the person on the receiving end.