Maybe it’s a dumb idea to try to figure out anything Josh Ostrovsky does. After all, this is the comedian-turned-entrepreneur who goes by the moniker The Fat Jew, seized internet fame with a video of him teaching a spin class to homeless people and shook up the refined realm of oenophiles in 2015 by rolling out White Girl Rosé. (Say what you want but the man has close to 11 million followers on Instagram, and his drinks incubator Swish Beverages quietly became part of AB InBev last year.)
Ostrovsky has proven that skewering stereotypically white culture (and then co-opting all the cynicism that tumbles out) isn’t just funny, it sells. It helps explain the popularity of his latest product, Babe Wine, and it may even partially explain Babe’s most recent marketing gambit.
His latest gambit is entering Babe into the monster-truck circuit, not as a sponsor that simply sticks its name on one of the vehicles—but by building an actual Babe Monster Truck.
“Brands sponsor race cars all the time, and those just drive around in circles and don’t do anything sick,” Ostrovsky told Adweek. “We love being involved in sports: Babe is the official wine of the NFL, and hopefully one day we’ll sponsor a jet ski team at the pro circuit. Have you ever been to a monster truck rally? They’re incredible in-person events. Why shouldn’t Babe be there?”
Well, here’s one reason. Babe, as its name suggests, enjoys a healthy following among young women and, last anyone checked, it was hard to find a more dude-centric event than a monster truck show. (Babe built its truck in collaboration with Monster Truck Throwdown, which stages the category’s major events.) Why, then, would a product famed for its sweet pink bubbly wine in a skinny white can want to bother dropping cash in a sport where a can of Bud is the drink of choice?
“That’s exactly why we did this,” Ostrovsky said. “Because we want to make wine more inclusive. It’s not just for French guys in tiny glasses and women at brunch anymore. Now that’s in a can, fits in a koozie and is available on tap, it’s perfect for monster truck rallies and for men who wear the same jeans for a week straight. Wine is awesome, watching monster trucks crush cars is awesome—it’s actually a perfect fit.”
Veteran beverage consultant Arthur Shapiro, author of the book Inside the Bottle, is inclined—if grudgingly—to agree. “This guy is about doing what people don’t expect him to do,” Shapiro said. “And it’s not confusion he’s creating. There’s a method to his madness.”
That method is actually on view in a promotional video that Babe released in connection with announcing its new truck. Set to Richard Strauss’s 1896 orchestral piece Also Sprach Zarathustra, the 49-second clip shows a row of junked cars painted with the logos of competitors—notably hard seltzer brands White Claw and Truly, as well as vino-in-a-can brands Barefoot Wine and House Wine—suffering complete annihilation as the Babe monster truck rolls over them. The stinger: “Babe crushes the competition.”
This not-so-subtle tableau, Shapiro observed, is a snapshot of Babe’s corner of the industry right now.
“There are two trends selling this brand,” he said. “One is wine in a can—in other words, making wine fun. Second, among the fastest growing categories is ready-to-drink seltzer. It’s lower in alcohol, sweet, and drinkable.” It makes sense for Babe to rev its engines in this category not just because it’s so competitive (some 65 brands of hard seltzer sit on store shelves these days) but because it’s so lucrative.
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