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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Brief Reign of the "Wine Welfare State"

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2008 at 4:08 PM

You probably noticed the cheeky marketing ploys restaurants and bars put out during the run-up to the Nov. 4 presidential elections, with drinks specials like the "Obama Pama" cocktail or "Palin red" wine. One such attempt from the Uptown restaurant Martinique Bistro this week seemed to spark a backlash, however.

Martinique is one of several local restaurants that use weekly email newsletters, complete with stock photography of food, detailed descriptions of specials and menu items and a salutation personalized to each individual recipient.

In Tuesday morning's email from Martinique, the subject line read: "Obama Nation Comes to Martinique Bistro."

And it continued:

The Wine Welfare State Has Come at Last!

Dear Ian,

Were you a 'red' voter or a 'blue' voter?  Doesn't matter now, does it?

In honor of our new President, Martinique Bistro presents sweeping social changes - even before he takes office!

Now through Inauguration Day, order ANY glass of wine with a lunch entree and get a second one FREE."

The terms of the special are repeated a few times, and then the copy continues:

It's the Wine Welfare State. When your first glass is empty, your server will bring you another one FREE!  Finally - a handout for wine snobs!

Who pays for this deal?  Not you!

Whether you vote red, white, rose', or sparkling, the choice is clear: Lunch at Martinique Bistro, home of the NEW Wine Welfare State."

By Tuesday evening a clarification was sent around to the same email list. Cristiano Raffignone, who owns Martinique as well as Cristiano Ristorante in Houma, is traveling in Italy and couldn't be reached, but a representative at the Houma restaurant explained that he never reviewed or approved the first email, and he stressed that it should never have been sent to customers. In the follow-up email, the subject line read: "No Politics at Martinique Bistro."

And here's the new copy:

Martinique Welcomes Everybody

Dear Ian,

We would like to extend a sincere apology to everyone who received our email today.

It was not an approved email advertising of Cristiano Raffignone. We remain neutral in all political affairs.

The intended joke & slur is not a view of Cristiano Ristorante nor Martinique Bistro.

Cristiano once again wishes to extend his apology & guarantee that it will never happen again. We extend our 2 for 1 offer of a glass of wine just as a customer appreciation for your patronage.

Best wishes from the friendly staff at Martinique Bistro."

So, while the two-for-one wine lunchtime wine special is on, the political humor most definitely is off in that dining room.

-- Ian McNulty

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