Lisa Mattson (Jordan Winery): Winner, Best Wine Themed Video
interview by Richard Siddle
On the eve of Star Wars returning to the big screen, hats off to the fun, creative and, let’s face it pretty brave, folk at the Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Napa, California for even attempting a Star Wars spoof.
Never mind one that attempts to cover the somewhat controversial subject of too much oak in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignons by depicting Darth Tannin and Oak Maul of the Malolactic Empire as the defenders of “excessive use of oak in the cellar” against those who seek “balanced winemaking”.
The result is the rather wonderful Cab Wars: The Fruit Strikes Back, which walked away with the Best Wine Themed Video category.
Richard Siddle caught up with Jordan’s very own Princess Leia who by day goes by the name of Lisa Mattson, Jordan’s director of marketing and communications, to find out how the film came about.
Who wrote and directed the video?
“This is actually a complicated answer, surprisingly. In short, it was a team effort by two other members of the marketing team, one of which no longer works for us, John Jordan and myself.
“Cab Wars was actually a three-part video project. Two of the videos were created as digital invitations for Jordan infamous industry Halloween party. Those invitation videos were not promoted to the public and had a slightly different script.
“John Jordan and I wrote the introductory narrative to Cab Wars, and I wrote the revised script for the Cab Wars version of the video, which was our public consumer version.
“Lori Green, our marketing manager, and John Jordan, along with digital media specialist Erin Malone, the person who no longer works for us, wrote most of the dialogue for the two invitation videos that were private.”
Who’s idea was it to attempt a Star Wars spoof?
“The Star Wars Halloween party was John Jordan’s idea. We have a lot of Gen Xers and millennials who work at the winery, many of whom are huge Star Wars fans.
“Erin Malone is also a Star Wars nut, and when John told us that he wanted to do video invitations for the Halloween party for the first time, we were all on board, and Erin led the project.
“My only stipulation was that we were going to need to be able to shoot the video in a way that would allow me to create a second script and another version of the video that would be public.
“That’s when John Jordan and I started brainstorming the Cab Wars concept and the battle of fruit vs. oak in Cabernet.
“Our Halloween party is limited to 300 and guests, and I wanted to make sure that a video project of this magnitude had an opportunity to be enjoyed by a much larger audience.
“When it came to officially shooting and directing, Erin and I were the two shooters for the two invitation videos. Lori Green and I directed talent on the set.
“For the Cab Wars consumer version, Drew Ross, Erin’s replacement, shot while I directed any additional shots needed.”
Those sets, costumes, and effects were pretty impressive. What was the budget to make the video and how long did production take?
“Again, it was actually three videos that were shot all under the same budget, so we got more bang for our buck. The whole project cost us about $20,000.
“Because we shoot our own videos in house and also handle most building projects internally, the project went quite quickly and wasn’t nearly as expensive as it would’ve been for someone who had to hire all of the resources and talent.
“We started costume research and ordering, as well as building the Tantive IV corridor set, in early May 2014.
“Our facilities staff of three built the entire set with Erin and Lori’s help over four weeks. There were many trips to Home Depot and much time spent watching the opening scene from Star Wars Episode IV.
“The set was used as the entrance to the Halloween party, so it had multiple uses as well.
We purchased all of the costumes rather than renting them, as they were able to be worn three times. We now have a dedicated Star Wars wardrobe area in our winery loft.
“We shot the save the date invitation video in June and the invitation video in July. We shot the additional Cab Wars scenes in September, and that only took a few additional hours of shooting and editing and a little bit of after effects.
“It took about four weeks of set building, costume gathering, organising employee talent, and writing and organising scenes and shoots. Two-three days of shooting for each invitation video. Then two weeks of postproduction for each of the invitation videos.
“Turning the invitation video into Cab Wars only took us another day of work.
“All of the talent in the videos were either employees of Jordan or relatives of employees. Darth Maul is our chef Todd Knoll. Chef Todd Knoll also played the main stormtrooper.
“Stormtroopers were employees from maintenance, the kitchen and also a couple of our contract construction builders. Sean Brosnihan, our head of guest services, is the rebel who got choked.
“The only thing we hired out was after effects of the light sabers and the Jordan bottle ship at the beginning.”
How important is video in your communications strategy? What impact has it had?
“Visual storytelling is an integral part of our communications. It’s not just online; we’ve fully integrated it into our guest experience. We have full-screen montage playing everyday in the lobby, overnight guests watch our music videos in the back of the Jordan Mercedes on their way into Healdsburg each night, etc.
“We believe it allows us to break through a very cluttered media world.
“It’s hard to quantify an “impact” directly. We’ve had people on Twitter tell us they bought a bottle of Jordan Cab because of one of our videos. We’ve had people come visit us because they saw one of our videos and said, “I have to go there. Jordan knows how to have fun.”
“We’ve had wine distributors send us emails after watching our parody videos and say, “I wish more of our established wine producers did this. We need more conservative, older wineries to embrace the modern-day storytelling and get consumers’ attention online.
“It makes our job of selling a lot easier.”
You have done a series of similar educational/fun videos…which ones have been the most successful?
“The music videos tend to go viral at first and spike; it’s the nature of music or whatever trend we are trying to align with, whether that’s a summer top 40 hit or the release of the new “Star Wars.”
“Dirty Work,” which debuted a few weeks ago, is our most successful to date.
“In the month to November 4, 2015 it received:
Total Reach: 682,036
Paid Reach: 57,700
Organic Reach: 630,336
“But cooking videos actually get the most views.”
What advice would you give other wineries when looking at video to tell your story or part of your story?
“Great video can enhance your marketing; bad video can hurt your brand image. Don’t do it unless you are willing to do it well. Consumers have high standards for website, photo and video content due to the rise of Youtube and Instagram. It doesn’t take a lot of money to make good video these days.”
What other wineries do you admire/respect for what they are doing with video?
“I really liked Gundlach Bundschu’s history of Merlot.
“I like the Martinelli Jackass Hill video that was a Wine Spectator winner this year.
“I’ve always been a fan of Paso Man (work by Dina Mande).”
How are you going to spend your BDWA prize?
“I’m going to donate it to the #LakeCountyRising fund for the Valley Fire victims of our neighbouring wine region.”
Watch the winning video here: