For many wine lovers, the Super Bowl is more about the ads than the guys in pads. We've been charmed by beer-peddling Clydesdales and puppies, bulldogs and bullfrogs, but why haven't we been treated to any anthropomorphized animals selling wine?! The answer is that Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) has held the exclusive alcohol-category rights on national ads during the Super Bowl since 1989, which is the reason your Super Sunday commercial breaks are soaked in Budweiser and Corona. That's all going to change this Sunday, however, thanks to a little Down Under ingenuity and an animatronic kangaroo named Roo.
Roo is the walking, talking, burger-flipping, DJ-ing robotic kangaroo star of Australian wine giant Yellow Tail’s new 30-second Super Bowl ad. He’s joined by the brightly suited Yellow Tail Guy and Australian supermodel Ellie Gonsalves. You'll almost certainly see them if you watch the Super Bowl this weekend, but they won't be appearing in a national ad: Yellow Tail has circumvented AB InBev's exclusive hold on national alcohol ads by going grassroots, buying up local ad spots in 70 of the country's largest markets. And it's actually costing Yellow Tail about as much as a typical 30-second national ad ($5 million) to reach an estimated 80 percent of the market, or 85 million viewers.
“I think everyone who cares about wine should feel a sense of pride that wine has made it back to the Super Bowl, America’s biggest advertising stage,” Peter Deutsch, CEO of Yellow Tail's U.S. distributor, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, told Unfiltered. “It’s exciting.” The last time a national wine ad appeared during the Super Bowl it was for Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers in 1988; prior to that, Paul Masson Vineyards' famous ads starring Orson Welles appeared in 1980.
“The Super Bowl is more valuable than ever,” says Deutsch. “The broadcast is the single most powerful platform in the world to seed an idea in the minds of the consumers.” The ad was directed by Harald Zwart (The Karate Kid 2010 reboot), who had a much easier time working with his human actors than with Roo. “It’s a toss up whether a real 'roo or an animatronic one is harder to get a performance out of!" he said via email. “But I did love the reactions from bystanders while we were shooting on location—you can’t make this stuff up.”
For Gonsalves, who tells us her favorite Yellow Tail bottlings are Moscato and Sauvignon Blanc, working with Roo brought back memories. “I'm a global ambassador for Steve and Terri Irwin’s charity, Wildlife Warriors, so I did a shoot at an Australia zoo with 12 different animals—one being a group of kangaroos,” Gonsalves, a Brisbane native, said via email. “I also grew up with them in my backyard.”
For the first time in the event's 30-year history, a chef from the United States has won the prestigious Bocuse d’Or culinary competition. Held every two years in Lyon, France, Bocuse d’Or is a grueling contest conceived by legendary French chef Paul Bocuse, pitting teams of chefs from around the world in a gastronomic battle. Chefs treat the event like an epicurean Olympics, often taking a year off to prepare.
Participating teams are determined via several qualifying rounds before the final showdown in Lyon. This year’s victors were a group of 10 American chefs, led by Mathew Peters, former executive sous-chef of Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning Per Se in New York (chef Thomas Keller served as president of Team U.S.A this year). Peters' commis (assistant chef), Harrison Turone, is also formerly of Per Se. The team was coached by 2015 runner-up chef Philip Tessier (also a Keller alum), as well as chef Gavin Kaysen, and the Team U.S.A. board of directors: chefs Daniel Boulud, Keller and Jérôme Bocuse. "In one day, our team and the countless chefs and mentors who supported them were able to elevate the respect for our profession at home and abroad," Keller told Unfiltered. "This was an historic moment."
Each team was required to prepare a meat platter and, for the first time ever, a vegan dish, in just 5 hours, 35 minutes. Dishes were judged on technique, creativity, presentation and, of course, taste. This year’s challenge included an interpretation of a Lyonaise dish called, poulet de Bresse aux écrevisses (chicken with crayfish). Peters and Turone put forth an alluring spread of chicken and lobster tails with various sauces, foie gras and arrangements of vegetables and truffles. For the vegan dish, the duo prepared asparagus with cremini mushrooms, potatoes and a green almond custard, with Meyer lemon confit, Bordelaise sauce and a crumble on top. The prize for winning includes a golden trophy of chef Bocuse and €20,000. "We started this journey more than nine years ago out of the encouragement of our mentor and beloved French chef Paul Bocuse," Keller said. "I made a promise to him then that he would see the United States, a country he loved and respected, on the podium at the competition named in his honor. This win is for chef Bocuse. There is an incredible sense of pride in knowing that what he really wanted for our team was to compete and stand on the podium. And now that we stand on top, the feeling defies words."
More than 50 years ago, Gloria Ferrer's father gave her a very special wineglass, to commemorate their trip to Venice, Italy. Ferrer was so enamored with it that she started collecting sparkling-wine flutes everywhere she went; today her 2,000-plus-piece menagerie, believed to be the largest private collection in the world, is filled with rare, antique and unusual flutes and coupes procured the world over. But now it holds one that she can truly call her own. Last year, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the California sparkling wine house that Ferrer founded with her husband, José, Gloria collaborated with Sonoma artist Alex Leader to design "Gloria's Flute," a sparkling-wine stem with a retro-modern feel that incorporates elements of both the classic coupe and flute designs. Now, in partnership with Lehmann Glass of Champagne, "Gloria's Flute" is available to all her California sparkling wine fans, priced at $40 a stem, at www.GloriaFerrer.com.
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