A viral digital video promoting a wine company quenched conservative thirst for culture-war-centric messaging. But it left some hungover after realizing the stirring video was for an adult beverage and not a Republican group or politician.
The success of We the People Wine’s message, crafted by a GOP consulting firm sister company, could inspire Republicans to take hold of social issues in the midterm elections and beyond.
But it could also provide a blueprint for brands to embrace cultural conservatism as a money-making strategy and response to liberal messages from major brands.
“The success of this video illustrates in very clear terms that going out and unifying people and taking on wokeism directly” works, said Ryan Coyne, founder and CEO of We the People Wine and Olympic Media, told the Washington Examiner. “Saying, ‘No, America is the greatest country in the world, and we're here to celebrate it, you're never going to convince us otherwise’ ... There's a clear desire in terms of the marketplace.”
The video released earlier this month juxtaposed snippets of President Ronald Reagan’s 1989 farewell address (with some words and verbal stumbles edited out for clarity) against clips of riots, a drag queen dancing, statues being toppled, and left-wing figures making controversial remarks.
“Are we doing a good enough job teaching our children what America is and what she represents?” Reagan asks. “I am warning of an eradication of the American memory that could result in an erosion of the American spirit.”
It shows clips of Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will resign over sexual harassment scandals, remarking America “was never that great.” Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneels during the national anthem. The View co-host Sunny Hostin said American flags can be symbols of white supremacy.
— Chris Stigall (@ChrisStigall) August 5, 2021
Then, a positive turn.
“We've got to do a better job of getting across that America is freedom — freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of enterprise,” Reagan says.
Images of Martin Luther King, Jr., soldiers saluting in front of the Washington Monument, and Apollo 11 astronauts plant the American flag on the moon.
“‘We the People' are free.”
But the end was a shocker: The ad was not for a Republican candidate or political group but to promote We the People Wine. Bottles adorned with an elephant and American flag label deliver a California-made cabernet or chardonnay at a reasonable price of under $30 a bottle.
The revelation prompted a wave of frustration from conservatives wishing Republican committees and candidates had messaging as effective or would lean into the kind of social issues and divides outlined in the ad more.
“I’d love to tell you this is a @GOP ad … I’d love to tell you that,” remarked talk radio host Chris Stigall.
Dozens of other comments concurred. Why aren’t Republicans doing this?
In a way, they are. We the People Wine is a sister company of Olympic Media, a Republican digital consulting firm based in Alexandria, Virginia, that has worked with the likes of Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina. Kim Klacik, who ran as Republican for a deeply Democratic Maryland seat in 2020, hired Olympic Media to promote her “Black Lives Don't Matter To Democrats” ad that also went viral.
Some Republicans do lean into the exact kind of messages We the People is pushing. But Republican messaging from many national leaders is much less spicy. A recent Republican National Committee seven-figure ad buy featuring Republican South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott tried to strike a similar message but focused on the migrant border surge and gas prices rather than pro-abortion advocates and drag queens.
It is uncertain whether such a culturally focused message could translate to success for all types of Republicans in a big-tent party. But it is certainly working in business.
“Our hypothesis, when we were beginning this brand, was we think most Americans reject what brands like Nike are doing with Colin Kaepernick stuff or the kneeling for the national anthem,” Coyne said. “There's a million T-shirt companies that sell really pro-American T-shirts and merchandise. But outside of that, you know, it gets pretty thin with big national brands that lean into American greatness.”
Black Rifle Coffee company proved leaning into a military-focused, pro-America brand can be a moneymaker. It had $163 million in sales in 2020, according to the New York Times, but is now struggling with a branding crisis as it distances itself from extremists.
We the People chose wine as a product vessel for its cultural conservatism message not because Coyne is a wine connoisseur but rather “it is something that we think brings people together … Raise a glass to American greatness — it's a unifying type of element.”
“We think that this can be a massive brand. I mean, we are hiring people to help, we are scaling up our inventory and our production and distribution capacity,” Coyne said. “We want to move a million cases of wine per year.”
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Emily Brooks