Thursday, March 27, 2008

PLCB Debuts Its New Face — Surprisingly Not A Neanderthal Likeness

Remember back in late 2006 when Governor Rendell named a new PLCB CEO and then-chairman Jonathan Newman resigned, crying foul? (As did we.)

Well, after taking a year to regroup, the PLCB is just launching its new campaign intended to show that that whole ordeal was not as big a clusterfuck as it appeared… and that it has not, in fact, regressed back into the prehistoric times of alcohol sales.

To help, they hired “a new face” and Craigers has the deets:
Has the LCB reverted to the grim monopoly of dull, overpriced wines, as so many feared when Newman left? Are the Chairman's Selections doomed to disappear or suffer benign neglect? Or is the LCB in the midst of a revolutionary housecleaning update, as its new leadership suggests?

That depends, of course, on whom you ask.

"We are really in a major renaissance here," [Joe] Conti said, referring to the past year's overhaul of the LCB's infrastructure and retail systems.

Melissa Monosoff, a respected sommelier in the Philadelphia area, began her part-time duties in Harrisburg [in January] as the LCB's consulting sommelier. Her responsibilities will touch on wine selection, staff training and marketing.

"This is not back to the future. It's about going to the future," said Monosoff, a former Fountain sommelier who will also work at the soon-to-open Maia in Villanova. "So far, I'm really impressed."
So Melissa says the PLCB is going to be progressive. We hope so. And what's this “marketing” component of her new gig?
Monosoff knows she has a mighty challenge ahead as consulting sommelier. As wine buyer for the Four Seasons, she had her own frustrations dealing with LCB staff.

Improving service will be a big part of her job. Along with advising the LCB's buyers on Chairman's Selections, she will help develop training programs for the staff.

"This is a process," she said.

[Cory] Rice, the former clerk in Center City, said Monosoff was a smart addition, a sentiment echoed by many in the wine community.

"I think she's great, and she has the ability to bring that enthusiasm back," Rice said. "But who are they going to bring in to do it" in the stores?

"The rank-and-file clerks didn't care about wine."
Touché. An anecdote:
In January, Center City lost one of its most knowledgeable and customer-oriented clerks in Cory Rice. Rice came on six years ago in the excitement brought on by Newman. But early this year, Rice left his job as wine buyer at 19th and Chestnut Streets after clashes with coworkers over what he saw as a growing disregard for fine wine.

"They were cooking my wines!" said Rice, who arrived one December morning to find the heat turned up to nearly 80 degrees, a damaging temperature for wines. And it wasn't the first time.

"I've had my fill of the PLCB," he said. "The enthusiasm [for wine] is just not there anymore… We've just gone back to being State Stores."
So there’s that…

And then there’s the whole problem of finding someone to tell you what type of wine to pair with your cheesesteak!?! (Monosoff recommends champagne because it’s "bubbly, fresh, refreshing, and tart… and spritzy." Aww… kinda like Monosoff herself. No, seriously, after watching this interview of Monosoff on CBS3, she seems genuinely competent and nice — we wish her the best of luck.)
If nothing else, Monosoff knows the agency is counting on her to reconnect the public to "a person they can understand and know.

They're looking for me to become the new face of the PLCB."
Literally. Melissa’s face is front and center all over the Food and Wine section of The PLCB have the blanketing display-ad tactics in effect.

PLCB Melissa monosoff ads on
On the whole, not poorly done ads. (Although, upon click-through, the landing page could use some help. Confidential to the PLCB: Google Analytics, dog — shit is free and, applied judiciously, can make bounce rates drop like Colon Blow. But eff that… this is an image campaign, right?)

Marketing is one thing. But in-store experience is entirely another. Get a few enthusiastic and knowledgeable wine buyers or so per store and, then, we'll say you're making some progress.

Pa. liquor board trying to keep wines fine [ Philadelphia Inquirer ]
Wine Expert On The Holidays [ CBS3, Video ]
Food & Wine [ ]
Ed Rendell, Captain of Cronyism

1 comment:

Dave said...

You said "Marketing is one thing. But in-store experience is entirely another. Get a few enthusiastic and knowledgeable wine buyers or so per store and, then, we'll say you're making some progress."

I would settle for just some nice human interaction like saying please and thank you, not talking to the fellow employees while waiting on a customer, not acting like they are doing you a favor selling you something, among other things.

As a taxpayer in PA i seriously resent the State Store System and the way the customers are treated. Not just in the way the employees act but the locations, the number of the stores (too few) and in a large number of cases the absolutely poor parking lots. Many time the stores are located on the sides or behind building and if you don't know an area you couldn't find them. In Media, PA the Expanded Wine shop has only 6 spots and is configured in such a way as to make it almost impossible to navigate.

All in all the State Store customer experience is a disaster.

Don't get me started about the fact that we have to go to two different stores if we want beer & wine.