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Is eRobertParker.com Going After Shelf-Talkers?

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I had this forwarded to me this evening, along with some thoughts from an attorney.

My question: Wasn't there once a little note in The Wine Advocate saying something to the effect of, 'it's okay for wine retailers to use shelf-talkers?' (Shelf-talkers are those little folded pieces of paper you see in Total Wine, listing the review and point score of a wine).

If so, could you argue that the publication itself has set precedent by allowing this to become standard practice? These shelf-talkers have become an important part of the business model of many high-volume retailers, and by their very name, one might see that they've allowed retailers to minimize the use of floor salespeople in developing their existing business models.

I don't think I've walked into a Total Wine in the past five years and *not* used one - I sure as heck wouldn't trust their salespeople.

(And, could this have implications for restaurants quoting publications' reviews and grades on their websites? Think about it - the potential implications of this are huge. I'm not saying they're right or wrong; I'm just saying they're potentially huge - there isn't a restaurant, or a movie, or a hotel, or much of anything else that doesn't tout critics' reviews.)

This could be very interesting and far-reaching. You heard it here first ...

If I'm reading between the lines of the following email correctly, the WA is going to start pushing back at wineries, retailers and distributors who use its reviews without permission (and compensation) to promote the wines they sell. Technically, the trade is probably violating WA's copyrights in these instances but I always figured that no one was complaining because it's free advertising for the publication. I suppose the WA's new owners decided that positive WA reviews are so valuable that the trade can't do without them. But doesn't this new policy in itself create a conflict of interest because the WA will earn a premium on positive wine reviews?, i.e., it now has effectively tied "commercial subscription" revenue to positive reviews--if you want to use them, you'll have to pay for them. I presume the new owners either haven't thought about the ethical implications or figure the point is too subtle to worry about.

erp_tag_line.gif Dear Subscribers & Friends,

A Commercial Subscription option for eRobertParker.com has recently been created solely for the purposes of wine companies and members of the wine trade - those who are in-the-business (ITB) of selling, distributing, marketing and/or producing wine. It offers special privileges that specifically concern those in the trade, including the right to reproduce our original, copyrighted tasting notes and scores for promotional purposes according to the terms of the agreement. Commercial Subscribers can also become retailers for Gift Subscriptions to eRobertParker.com. And we are currently developing a trade only section of the website that will offer news and resources geared uniquely towards subscribers ITB.

Another benefit of the Commercial Subscription is the ability to set-up group subscriptions, offering companies that have a number of employees needing access to the website the ability to have multiple logins for the same account at a discounted rate.

Still have questions about the Commercial Subscription? Please follow our "FAQs" link below, which should help address any queries you may have.

We look forward to seeing you soon at eRobertParker.com.

Subscriber Services

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