The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything

Forty-two*. That’s all I had in my head as the cacophony of images I’d just witnessed wound itself down.

There was a brief period of uneasy silence, and then a hesitant clap, followed by another and another until it eventually could be called app-lause.

Expressions in the room ranged from be-musement to puzzlement to amusement to excitement, dep-ending upon the age of the person wearing the expression.

The acoustics at the venue – an overly pretentious “studio” in the Bo-Kaap – are atrocious, so the narrative which accompanies the kaleidoscope of images, is indecipherable. Which is a great pity, because once I got to watch the clip on YouTube and listen to the carefully crafted message, it began to make sense, but that only came later.

The fleeting images are skilfully selected, and equally skilfully edited, to lend meaning and substance to the narrative, which in turn lends context to the accompanying images, but one has the sense that it is too much, too soon, too fast.

The result is evocative, sensory, and conjures up a slew of memories that awaken the five senses. Cool water, shade-dappled long grass, the hint of a first kiss, a wheeling arc of the Milky Way Galaxy, an almost gratuitously erotic flash of “Angelina Jolie” plush lips dripping dark plum juice after taking a bite, and only fleetingly, a drop of blood red wine, sliding down a bottle label. There’s more, but by now you get the picture.

The edge of eroticism is more unexpected, than it is inappropriate, and it does not in any way detract from what I understand the creative mind behind the concept is attempting to do, but once more, that only dawned on me later, while wandering from food station to food station, tasting a spread of Nederburg wines – all sporting spiffy new packaging and labelling – skilfully paired with de-lectable culinary creations.

(My out and out favourite was the 2014 Nederburg Two Centuries Sauvignon Blanc, but that it was accompanied by a virtually endless supply of creamy Saldanha Bay oysters, may have more to do with that preference, than the excellence of the wine – and it was indeed an excellent sauvignon blanc.)

“It’s like flicking through Instagram,” says a media colleague, a good generation younger than I, as we stand and enjoy a few oysters washed down with ice-cool sauvignon blanc, and finally the penny drops. Millennials, that is the target market.

Don’t get me wrong. I Instagram and I tweet and I Facebook, but I see social media as a tool of the trade, rather than an absorbing browse.

“My problem with Instagram when I’m working, is that if I take a look just to see what’s happening, I can get sucked in by the images and only drag myself away with difficulty a half an hour later,” a 30-year-old friend tells me over a glass of wine.

She has her phone in hand, and divides her time between Instagram, and our conversation.

A chat to Nederburg brand manager Melissa Diedericks after the penny drops, and my conclusion about the intended target market is confirmed, which constitutes something of a shift in marketing direction, compared with Nederburg offerings of late.

The previous campaign was centred around then cellar mas- ter Razvan Maccici, communicating a message which targeted – rightly or wrongly – the wine aficionado, showcasing largely premium brands.

This initiative steers clear of individual wines, or for that matter, ranges in the product stable, instead placing the brand – Nederburg – front and centre, reaching for that chimera, the lifestyle link.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are an interesting market, and in middle class terms, constitutes well over 50% of the population.

Well educated, savvy, technology-oriented, and brand conscious, they are also inclined to support brands which manifest a social or environmental conscience.

They are early adopters, and most importantly, they want to be the first to try something new, and the first to post about it on social media, of which they are significant users.

Whereas they are loyal to brands which they adopt (and trust), they will drop a brand like a hot cake, which transgresses their expectations. It is also difficult to capture and hold their attention.

Not an easy market to penetrate, but with the traditional market for wine ageing (and dying) apace, any producer with an eye to the future, will seek to grab a slice of this vitally important cake.

It is a bold step to shift focus to this undoubtedly significant market, but if reactions to the advertisement at the launch event by those who fit into that demographic are anything to go by, Nederburg may well be onto something.

You’ll find the advertisement at https://youtu.be/pDurOcm H52c.

If you’ve read Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the 42 reference will make sense. Arthur Dent, hero of the piece, learns that the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything” is 42*, as calculated by Deep Thought, an enormous super-computer over a period of 7.5 million years.

Trouble is, nobody knows what was the question, so a new super-computer the size of a planet, made of organic compounds, and called “Earth”, is constructed to compute the Ultimate Question.

The rest, as they say, is history.