Diners Club took on Master Card today in Franschhoek in a battle of the marketing budgets. By delaying their annual Winemaker of the Year Awards to the last day of November, Diners were clearly taking marketing aim at Master Card who sponsor the annual Franschhoek bubbly festival which goes down today and tomorrow. By early this morning, Diners already had a street full of branded cars in town, hoping to upstage the bubbly bash. But by the time I made it down to the Huguenot monument for the fizz affair, the sold out signs were already up. The Master Card event was heaving with the hoi polloi while the Diners do is a more exclusive affair at La Residence, best boutique hotel in the heelal.
Which underlines an important point of difference between the two credit cards. Diners aims at being exclusive and charges accordingly, while Master Card aims at being a credit card for the people. Two competing business models. But I can’t help feeling that when it comes to wine, Diners have grasped the pompous end of a very small and very pointy stick while ordinary South Africans are looking for something altogether more authentic and real.
Has the time perhaps come for Diners to take a hard look at their marketing strategies? Is the top end of SA wine, with all its conflicts of interest and outrageous scams, really the place for a subsidiary of Standard Bank to argue the odds? Perhaps taking a leaf out of the marketing manual of ABSA and Master Card and sponsoring a Festival of Fizz would give a better return on investment. The demographic at Hanneli Rupert’s Leopard’s Leap stand this afternoon, shows the way forward.