The Snowden Files: Wine Shop Asia squeezes Hong Kong visit for every drop

By Jim Boyce

Online retailer Wine Shop Asia, which stirred controversy earlier this year by releasing scores over 100 points, got maximum marketing value out of the recent visit to Hong Kong by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden. And even though Snowden has since moved on, so too has Wine Shop Asia, with the most recent promotion in its “Snowden Files” focused on his flight to Russia:

Wine Shop Asia Hong Kong Snowden Files 3

Also of note, while Snowden has proven adept at alluding the authorities and media, it appears Wine Shop Asia has a direct line:

“During my time [in Moscow’s airport] I’ve had the opportunity to carry out extensive Duty Free shopping”, Snowden informed us.

“However I’ve purchased too much wine and have now exceeded the maximum legal limit for a person to bring into most Countries. This I believe is the main reason why I have not yet been granted asylum anywhere.”

(To be honest, I’m disappointed that WSA [Wine Shop Asia] — hmm, that sounds close to NSA — didn’t go high-end on this deal. Both Mouton Rothschild and Margaux start with “M”, and you figure a guy facing an unsure future deserves the good stuff.)

The previous “Snowden Files” also paired wine packages and acronyms. The campaign started modestly, with bottles from New Zealand, Spain and Argentina:

Wine Shop Asia Hong Kong Snowden Files 1

And it first revealed WSA’s apparent access to the man:

When Snowden came to our Hong Kong office for a casual visit — and to use our wifi and fax machine — he informed us about his love for wine.
“I’ve been a wine buff long before being a whistle-blower. The only reason why I came to Hong Kong is because [there is no import tax] on the wine.
The second proved far more ambitious and must have taken the staff untold hours, and perhaps one of these, given it required a whopping seven labels:

Wine Shop Asia Hong Kong Snowden Files 2

It also revealed, reported WSA, a Snowden thoughtful of food and wine pairings:

“Irrespective of the season, a wonderful lunch or dinner experience must begin with an apéritif. My suggestion is the New Zealand Tahuna Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. Much like my 32GB USB stick, the apéritif must be there to get the job done right.

“During the hot season, and when I’m on the run, my lunch of choice is always grilled fish with a Mediterranean salad. My preferred accompaniment is either a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a USA Livermore Valley Chardonnay.

“After a hard day of downloading Top Secret information or faxing Embassies granting Asylum, my appetite tends to lean towards a Roast Lamb or sometimes a Chateaubriand, paired with a hearty Stellenbosch Cabernet Merlot. One should remember they must always complete the meal with a delicious Vintage Port with any chocolate variation such as a chocolate fondant”.

What will the fourth installment bring? Will the marketing team manage to find enough bottles to spell out “Venezuela“, “Rafael Correa” or “Please, No More Chicken Kiev“? Or will they change strategy, go Waldo and give us a “Where’s Snowden?

(To see the full promotions, click here here for File 1, here for File 2 and here for File 3.)

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