The cork cartel has even gotten to Flickr: a user comment on this photo said, "A plastic cork? How ignominious."
The cork cartel has even gotten to Flickr: a user comment on this photo said, "A plastic cork? How ignominious."

Stick A Cork In It: The Cork Cartel Advertises

What do you do when you have a product that's being replaced by competing technology, some of which resolves long-known problems with your product, and absolutely no one except hardcore, diehard purists gives a shit?

You advertise, of course.

The U.S. "100% Cork" campaign has released an advertisement on YouTube depicting a wildly improbable scenario involving a faux-fur rug, a hot woman pretending to be a high-maintenance Amélie Poulain (seriously, woman, he brought you wine--shut up and drink it), the world's least confident suitor and a narrator with bad posture and a worse imitation of Received Pronunciation. Here, watch:

First of all, plastic stoppers are recyclable and can be pitched in the same recycling bin as the bottle (hands up, all seventeen of you who still return wine bottles for the hidden environmental tax deposit). Second, wines that are stoppered with plastic have no risk of being corked.

The accusation that plastic wine stoppers use fossil fuels conveniently ignores the fact that corks also require fossil fuels (we assume cork tree bark is not moved by fossil fuel-free methods, and that it doesn't magically end up in wineries via teleportation).

There are reasons to use natural cork: tradition, for one thing, and it may be that plastic exposed to sunlight releases chemicals (or maybe just an off taste) into wine that's been laid down for storage; plastic hasn't been in use long enough on good wine to judge that yet.

In case the idea of screw-top wines springs to mind, the cork cartel has an unnecessarily dramatic (and frankly just stupid) video for that, too, featuring the same irritating narrator, a group of judgmental co-workers and a boss who's apparently never read the labor laws:

Carl Sagan put it very succinctly in Contact: "There are huge advertising budgets only when there's no difference between the products. If the products really were different, people would buy the one that's better. Advertising teaches people not to trust their judgment. Advertising teaches people to be stupid."

Stick a cork in it, cork cartel: the truth is that the vast majority of Americans couldn't care less, and this kind of ineffective advertising is misguided and doomed to fail.


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