My last Review of Washington Blog posting (see below) wrote about the memorable advertising campaigns David Horsfall produced for Esquin Wine Merchants, which I owned from 1969 to 1997. I also posted on Facebook pictures of some of these ads. One of the most commented on was the hidden case of wine. One comment was from Jim Gratton who was a sales rep for a wine distributor at the time that campaign was going on. He wrote, "I would love to hear the whole story of the Cos d'Estournel treasure hunt." I replied, "Jim, the next Review Blog which goes on line Saturday will have the back story of the hidden case of Cos d'Estournel." So here it is.
At the time (1979) the Esquin ads in the Seattle Weekly were on the theme of "Who's hiding the best wines in Seattle." so David and I came up with the idea of "hiding" a case of wine. Not actually, but a wood Chateau Cos d'Estournel box with a certificate for the wine inside. The series of advertisements contained Clues #1 through #4, each bringing the searchers closer to the location of the case. The treasure hunt took place in Seattle's Discovery Park, an expansive park granted to the city by the federal government after the naval base there was closed.
The ad campaign elicited a couple of phone calls from government officials. The first was from a Liquor Control Board agent saying we couldn't give wine away. I replied that it was just a promotional expense. I never did hear back from the Liquor Board about that. The other call was from the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation complaining about people digging up the grounds in the Park. I explained that the ads stated that one didn't need to dig anything up, but apparently some people still did.
As the campaign and the clues progressed, more and more interest was created. Finally, the last ad had the heading, "Near the feet of the Patriarch lies Esquin's hidden case of 1970 Chateau Cos d'Estournel." Clue #4 directed readers back to the first ad in the series, which showed in the background a tall old snag tree in Discovery Park, "The Patriarch." A few days later, a Seattle architect, Jerry Arai, appeared at Esquin to claim his treasure. A few days later, we did a photo shoot at the site, re-enacting the discovery of the hidden case with me hiding behind the tree. This concluded this memorable campaign. We did another hidden case campaign where we hid a case near Pioneer Square, with clues taking hunters from Esquin through SODO and under the Viaduct. A group of lawyers found the case. That was the last time we "hid" a case of wine.
For pictures of the hidden case ads, go to Rand Sealey's Review of Washington Wines on Facebook.
No Review Blog next week
Tomorrow, Sunday January 24, we will be leaving for South Carolina, Georgia and Florida and there will be no blog for the week of February 1. The next blog will be on Wednesday, February 10.