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Annals of Wine Marketing #4 - Tio Pepe

Guitarra tiene el Tío Pepe
para dar caza a los rojos
pues, cuando canta al Pilar, 
todos se postran con hinojos…

Tio Pepe has a guitar
to hunt down the reds
then, when he sings to Our Lady of the Pillar*
everyone falls on their knees and bows their heads...

Luis Pérez Solero, one of the more mythic figures of the Spanish design and marketing world, wrote those words as the Spanish Civil War raged in the late 1930s. In 1934 he became the jefe de propaganda for the famous sherry house, Gonzalez Byass, quickly coming up with the anthropomorphic bottle illustration to market Tio Pepe, a middling fino. It became a brand-name sensation, dare I say, an icon.

Tio Pepe, the character, sports a high-crowned sombrero cordobés and a classic short-waisted Andalucian coat - both in bright scarlet. So much for hunting the reds! His guitar, rather than killing fascists, serves as a prop - an easy signifier of flamenco culture. The most famous ad copy Solero wrote describes the sherry as Sol de Andalucia…

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