Branding a Winery and Its Wine Is Expensive, Necessary and Benefits the Consumer No Matter the Size

A discussion about branding is generally not a conversation anticipated with excitement. If you’re a marketing type it can be characterized as maybe interesting. But, promising most people an indepth discussion on the subject of wine branding; heck, we might have no one accepting an invitation to our dinner party. In reality, creating a brand image for wineries and wines can help the consumer to be smart buyers.

Because margins can be small for producers and a perponderance of producers are small, small margins impact the small producer profoundly. Branding can be expensive. So what can be done to entice consumers to try a brand they have never heard of before? Now we are talking about branding and it can be risky, even with great planning. Further, it is a lot of compromising.

What impact did branding have on the last bottle of wine you bought? Did you buy that wine because you knew some enticing fact about the winery, winemaker or their wine making processes? Did you buy a wine based upon a friend’s recommendation because they knew your preference for a certain varietal? Have your preferences for a wine changed over the past few years? Do you buy your wine based upon a random trial and found you liked that particular wine? Whatever the process you went through in buying a wine you have been impacted, to some degree, by branding. If you simply selected a wine based upon its price or label design, branding was involved.

Recently, I have had discussions concerning the process of business branding from a corporate perspective and a product perspective. Most of the emphases of these discussions have been specific to the value of branding a winery and their wines; predominately with small producers. Like most everything in business, decisions are generally based upon compromises in budgets, approach, etc. Obviously, the product of a winery is bottles of various varietal wines which are a disposable product that is consumed based upon ever changing sensory perceptions–mostly taste. I submit that the juxtaposition in branding a winery and their products makes this discussion difficult. For example, many wines I like and buy frequently, I don’t even know who produces them. Further, winery brands I recognize, some of their wines I don’t like for various subjective reasons.

Point being, in most branding discussions relating to the wine industry become convoluted. Wineries produce multiple labels and these labels are subjected to consumer reviews that are based on innumerable personal influences. With so many variables, the task of presenting a positive image about a corporate winery brand is difficult.

We all are influenced by branding to some degree, even minimally. For example, a few years ago Tide was going to stop sponsoring NASCAR races. Surprisingly, they found that Tide had a rabid and loyal following with female NASCAR fans and Tide is still a sponsor. The brand had made a commitment and now wanted to change it.

Another example of branding impact is Schlitz beer. In the late 1960’s Schlitz decided to change their formula for brewing their beer. Immediately they went from a premier label, ahead of Budweiser, to being virtually extinct. In 2008, they went back to their original formula of the 1960’s, but the damage to a great brand was permanent.

These examples of powerful brands are obvious. In the case of Schlitz it shows how fragile a brand can be if the consumer is betrayed. However, wine is not a mass market product (like beer) that is as ubiquitous as beer or a laundry detergent. Compared to wine, consumers do not build beer cellars in their home and collect beer. So, wine is a very unique product that is expensive to brand on a per customer basis (this is especially true when consumers understand the discounting needed for distributors to sell and promote a label (discounting is part of the branding strategy).

The demographics for the wine market are broken down into 5 segments with some under 21 years old in the millennial category. This is according to a Wines and Vines Newsletter. The largest segment of wine drinkers are the millennia’s and Generation xers making up 70% of the 5 market segments (Baby Boomers included). Wine Business Monthly estimates 1 of 4 drinking consumers do not drink wine but prefer beer or spirits. Of the 130 million adult populations it is estimated 35% drink some wine, according to Live Science. This illustrates the finite size of the market and the precision required in branding to be effective in developing a consumer’s perception of a corporate winery brand.

For this discussion on winery branding, Wines and Vines tells us that the average price of a bottle of wine keeps inching up and is now approximately $12. The real sweet spot is in the $10-15 per bottle range. When a winery looks at the cost of raw materials, marketing, packaging, sales/discounting and facilities and G/A the margins are restrictive when planning a new or improved branding program. Wineries in this position need volume and a 5,000 case run makes branding challenging, but not impossible.

Using the best information available for this discussion, we assume there are about 44% of the populations who do not drink any alcoholic beverages. Based upon population distribution within the 5 demographic segments there are approximately 65 million people who drink some wine at least monthly. We will assume here that they will buy approximately 3-4 bottles of wine per month (probably a generous assumption). This information could account for the purchase of approximately 220 million bottles of wine in the US. These purchaseswould be for home consumption with an additional amount for restaurant sales and meeting/convention sales.

Here is where the branding issues become real. There are 8,500 wineries in the U.S. 80% of these wineries produce 5,000 cases or less of wine. To add perspective, Gallo produces in excess of 80 million cases of wine in a year for worldwide sales. Keeping with the small producer for the moment, this wine is sold via the winery tasting room, winery wine clubs, on-line (Direct to Consumer), retailers (which includes grocery stores) via Three Tier Distribution that requires discounting to the distributors for retailer discounts, sale commissions, promotions and their advertising.

Remember, there has been no discussion of the wines that are imported from Italy, France, Chile, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. This is important because these producers/importers are worried about branding their products also; this causes a lot of clutter in the market.

It is probably apparent there are large producers, from all over the world, selling wine in America. Some wines do enjoy strong brand recognition such as Yellow Tail from Australia or Gallo from Lodi, CA. Beringer, Mondavi, and Coppola in Napa Valley are also high in brand recognition. In Sonoma we have Kendall Jackson and Rodney Strong. Interestingly, it takes strong revenue and profits to build a brand and if you are a small producer the money it takes for consumer branding activities is prohibitive. We need to always remember every brand (corporate or product) must be positioned differently as an image.

We see that sales of 4 or 5 bottles of wine per month to U.S. consumers is a daunting task just to get trials of the product. This is one of several reasons why wineries are spending more on improving direct sales through their tasting rooms, wine clubs, on-line (Direct to Consumer) sales and social media.

Let’s talk about corporate winery branding. The industry needs an honest relationship with consumers. Otherwise the customer belongs to the 3 Tier Distributor or wine store and the sale becomes exponentially expensive going forward. A winery must define their image, product niches, consumer profile and be targeted to the consumer with a message specific to their targeted consumer. Wine Business.com reports that the vast majority of wine consumers buy wine based upon taste. But, taste is only one of the differentiators. Obviously, wineries have to get the taster.

Branding

Effective branding is about bringing a corporate name, the company’s products, or the services to be top of mind awareness for the customer. A product may even have more recognition/branding than the company name. For example, Kleenex is more recognized than Kimberly Clark which manufacturers Kleenex. That is fine.

Wine is mostly sold, not by a winery name or a label but first through price. Of the 10,000 plus varietals in the world, California has mostly focused on maybe 25 varietals for wine and wine blending. This fact makes it even harder to brand a winery when people look for price first and varietal in third place according to Dr. Thach and Dr. Chang. Number two is branding.

Now consider the changes impacting the wine business. The industry is now impacted with labels and brands announcing: organic wines, sustainable wines, and bio-dynamic farming wines.These add a new twist to branding considerations. Over the past few years there are some trying to brand lower alcohol levels, and medals. Talk about branding overload.

Branding Impact

Wineries must recognize, after the decision is made to add focus to the company and/or its products, the company branding effort must be impacted throughout the organization. It will require constant development, refinement, monitoring, and administration. Finally, a corporate identity must become the culture at the winery. In Dr. Thach and Dr. Chang 2015 survey of: American Wine Consumer Preferences, 61% of their respondents had visited multiple wineries in California alone. This means, if a branding message being put out into the marketplace is not part of the winery culture the brand will be diminished. Consumers will see that culture in action at the winery.

Marketing is not all there is to branding, but it is significantly ahead of number two. Marketing is part of branding because it touches and introduces the brand to consumers, retailers, vendors and the community. There are many large companies that spend vast sums of money on building corporate brand without selling specific products. Boeing is such a company; consumer does not buy $300 million airplanes however they do respond to image.

Finally, companies/brands must protect their image at all costs. Once the Branding Plan (akin to a business plan) is developed, with a good foundation of research and winery metrics, that plan will dictate many things. For example: product launches and new product launches, dictate the messages coming from the company, employee hiring, PR, packaging, and the list encompasses every department is a winery.

Elements to Illustrate Branding Tasks

· Bottle labels and winery logo-Label creativity is still at the mercy of the TTB (Alcohol & TobaccoTax and Trade Bureau) relative to label content. Still it is part of the image that appears to the consumer on the shelf; it’s an identifier.

· Marketing/advertising/sales/collateral materials/PR/Sponsorships are front and center. The consumer facing image is throughout–club, on-line and tasting room sales and mailing list. Give consumers value beyond just the product.

· Training plan-Training must be centric to developing and reinforcing a new branding strategy. Employees at all levels must buy into the corporate and product positioning, not just public contact employees.

· Packaging is an element that ties the label and logo message together. In wine branding even the bottle shape and weight, closures (screw caps/cork/synthetic cork), capsules/foils, all go into the branding perceptions.

· Product consistency-Consumers who eventually accept a brand expect consistency. As the saying implies-If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.

· Website, blog and social media are major elements to create, reinforce and maintain branding for products and corporate. Customer feedbacks will give almost immediate indications if the brand strategy is generating desired results and achieving benchmarks.

With wineries producing many varietal and blended wines under their corporate brand it is probably more important that the winery brand be face forward. This is a personal opinion and probably will vary based upon ownerships’ strategies for the business. For example, if a winery wanted to position the property for a sale then branding would have a different approach than a launch of a new label.

If you are a wine consumer the branding activity can be entertaining and enlightening. For example, as a consumer we enjoy winery tastings, but the chances of visiting more than a handful of wineries may be out of the question. But with so many wines and so little time, part of the fun is exploring new wines. For a winery, branding really becomes important and especially if your small but want to create a brand that meets your business expectations for a 5, 10 or 20 year time frame.

There are many occasions when I go into a Total Wines or BevMo or our grocery store, just to do fun research. With a note pad and a magnifying glass (required because of age and fine print) I will read labels for information-winery, blending, and a little of the hype. Coming home I will look up the winery website, read about their wines and form an opinion about the brand simply based on the feel of the site, label designs, the winemaker, and past awards (although that is not all that important). If I am interested I sometimes even call a winery to ask questions about the winery, owners and style of winemaking.

Amazingly, the majority of the time the people answering my questions are ill prepared.

Importance of research is not appreciated by consumers and producers. Research focuses on industry matters, winery/winery products and competition concerning the following: image, price, products, promotions, lace, historical data and competition (brands). This data will eventually direct the Branding Plan efforts.

Knowing the consumer, defining the future plans of the winery and product directions, now is the time to get to work on the business of branding. Half of the effort is about where the winery wants to go and how the winery gets there. Research gives a path. A branding without a written plan bought into by employee implementers is called gambling.

For the purpose of discussion we will assume a winery has not really focused on branding and this would be an early effort at branding. Or, maybe the current branding is not generating the desired results; then a change is in order. Sometimes branding is only to build awareness or it is image branding. If a customer can’t tell a winery’s researcher their perceptions/attributes of a wines brand then branding efforts have weaknesses.

Moving forward with the data points from industry research and the research initiated by the winery, a branding plan must be developed that focuses on the corporate brand image as well as the wines (products).

Mission Statement versus Objectives is always confusing. Some companies want a Mission Statement as a starting point of a branding plan. I am the exception to this rule; most Mission Statements I have been involved with are actually too esoteric and enigmatic to be useful throughout the organization. However, most everyone can relate to an “objective” statement as opposed to a “mission”. Here is the Mission Statement from Constellation Brands who owns Robert Mondavi-“Building brands that people love. “Their Vision statement reads-“To elevate life with every glass raised.” Do these statements resonate with you as a wine drinker? (By the way, this is not meant as a slight to Constellation Brands which is a highly successful company that has an impressive portfolio of brands) Answer this question relative to the Vision and Mission statement of any of their brands or the corporate brand image: What is your top of mind awareness of Constellation Brands after reading these statements?

In developing a branding plan objective and strategy, be focused on what the all encompassing goals are so that along the way most employees and consumers understand the message.

If this is the first time to work on a branding plan it might be best to focus on a Corporate/Winery branding strategy and let that strategy support branding objectives for the wine products. Branding is ultimately building the public’s (wine consumers) impression of the winery and the products.

For example, in the 1980’s whenever someone mentioned Robert Mondavi Wines I thought instantly of a winery with community involvement, arts, food, innovation and quality control. I drank a lot of their wines because of that image. After some turmoil, of which I know little about, I started buying other brands because my perception of the image became tarnished (to me). After Mr. Mondavi became distant for the brand it just lost some appeal. Point is a corporate brand built my perception of the wines.

After a Brand Plan objective is determined, based upon research results and the vision of the owners/managers, the specific strategies and plan-of-action items are developed by all winery departments. Think of the Objective as a military operation. Taking a hill is the objective, no more specific than that. Strategies are the options to achieve that objective.

There is always a cost associated with any launch of a branding program or even maintaining a brand. The impetus of the effort is marketing driven as that is the face of the company. Based upon revenues, cost of distribution (wine club, direct to consumer, distributors, on-line, tasting room), and product associated costs, the branding effort will dictated by a series of complex decisions; not all of which will be revenue or profit motivated.

The branding campaign can simply start off by maximizing existing marketing programs to incorporate new branding ideas. For example, add an updated logo to collateral materials or posters or point-of-sale cards. Improve e-mail communications to mail list, club members, retailers and even editors/bloggers at trade publications.

Not that the importance of branding needs further reinforcement, I digress. There was a research study conducted by Dr. Liz Thach and Dr. Kathryn Chang and published in WineBusiness.com. A question in that study ask respondents: When making a decision on which wine to purchase what were the two most important factors? 72% said price was the most important consideration, followed by brand as the second most important consideration at 67%. Interestingly, varietals were about half as important (36%) as price. The most common price range for wine bought for home consumption (32%) was $10-15 with 19% purchasing wine averaging $15 to 20 a bottle. For branding purposes 51% of the wine consuming market is buying wine in the <$20 per bottle. Point is, price is a driver in any branding.

“Wine is regarded as an “experience good (sic)” in that wine purchase of a specific brand is a personal choice and usually made after tasting. However, many consumers do not have the choice and often rely on experts and friends to help decide which wine to purchase, Nowadays, they are more likely to use social media,” as reported by K. Newman in “How Wine Lovers Use Social Media and K. Breslin in Presentation of Constellation Digital Marketing.

Just remember the old axiom-The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Here is an example of plans that don’t work out. Reported in Wines and Vines on November 11, 2015, Truett-Hurst Winery posted $800,000 in charges related to its Paper Boy brand, which had sought to use a unique bottle composed of cardboard with a plastic liner. This is the primary reason why making sure progress toward benchmarks are monitored and tested with good research.

Dr.’s Thach and Chang summarize branding precisely, relative to wine:

· Focus branding message on relaxation and social benefits of a brand.

· Adopt social media platforms to interact with consumers and get their feedback. There are conflicting views on the value of social media in marketing wines, but it is probably wise to pay attention to trends and how to use the phenomenon.

· Work with distributors to make sure wines are available in outlets. Distributors need care and attention so they understand the branding direction a winery and enforce a branding strategy with retailers.

· Whatever the price point a winery wants their products to be in, the brand must support that message. The sweet spot is $10-15 but if the cost structure in the product does not allow that pricing then there are obvious choices a winery must make.

· Wine tourism is a great way to brand which spills over into the social media, peer reviews and recommendations and word of mouth promotion.

· Through research, keep abreast of competitive tactics.

Here are some thoughts that pertain to social media branding.

“A lot of mediocre wine is being sold on the basis of a ‘story’.” (Transpose “story” with “branding”.) “That’s a quote from a New York somm, Jason Jacobeit, cited in Lettie Teague’s latest column in the Wall Street Journal,” says Heimoff a wine writer.

The following is another perspective on the value of social media in branding from Steve Heimoff. “I don’t think these top 30 wineries consider social media as the most important of their “how to sell” strategies, rather, they focus on such traditional things as a trained sales force, pricing strategies, paying attention to consumer trends, forging good relationships with distributors and key accounts (on-premise and off-premise), courting wine writers (including bloggers) and a host of other proven best practices that social media has barely any impact on.” The 30 top wineries referred to in Mr. Heimoff’s blog come from Wine Business Monthly. The 30 companies represent nearly 90 percent of the domestic wine sold annually in the U.S. by volume.” In fact, “The top companies themselves represent more than half of U.S. case sales,” notes Wine Business Monthly.

“Mass advertising can help build brands, but authenticity is what makes them last. If people believe they share values with a company, they will stay loyal to the brand.” ― Howard Schultz. I would add, brands are built from the ground up by all hands being on deck. Recognize that Howard Schultz’s coffee sells at about 5X the price of a gallon of gas. That is great branding.

At the bottom-line, a wine brand is difficult to achieve because of so many variables: cost of the product, cost of marketing/advertising, government restrictions, distribution, and plethora of producers (domestic and import) and producers putting out competing labels under their corporate brand. But, once a brand is built it must be protected and therein lays the real value to consumers and the company.

Top 10 Will Smith Movies

There was a time when you could bank on there being at least one Will Smith movie hitting the big screen every year, but it has been relevantly quiet on the Will Smith front since 2008. Although not in the front of the camera Smith has been busy behind it, helping produce his son Jaden’s movie “The Karate Kid”. But the good news is that Will Smith will be back infront of the camera once again when he stars in the next “Men in Black” movie, yes they are making a third one. So whilst we wait for more alien busting action here is my Top 10 Will Smith Movies to keep you entertained.

10) The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)

Rannulph Junnah had it all, he was a great golfer, a legend in Savannah and dated the beautiful Adele Invergordon. But having gone off to war all that changes as he returns to Savannah a changed man more interested in drinking and gambling than playing golf. In the meanwhile Adele having inherited both a golf course and debts from her father is forced to fin a way to raise some money quickly and sets about hosting the greatest game of golf ever. Having aisgned up golf legends Waler Hagen and Bobby Jones to play she convinces Junnah to play after the locals demand a local player to appear alongside the greats. Having lost his confidence and swing it seems that Junnah is destined to disappoint but when a myserious man called Bagger Vance turns up offering to caddy for him it seems that things are turning around for Junnah.

I have to say that whilst I enjoy “The Legend of Bagger Vance” it has to be said between the mysticism of the character Bagger Vance and many zen like golf sequences it is all a bit too fairytale like. But then Will Smith delivers a charming, fun, intriguing character in Bagger Vance making much of what is really a lot of nonsense into an entertaining movie.

9) Men in Black (1997)

Whilst giving chase to a criminal, James Darrel Edwards III discovers that he’s up against someone who is not human bringing him to the attention of Agent Kay who introduces him to the top secret agency MiB whose job is to control all the aliens who live on the planet undetected. Having convinced Edward’s to join this special agency, becoming Agent Jay in the act, they find themselves in the thick of things as the planet is facing destruction unless they can discover an Alien terrorist looking for ambassador’s from other planets.

Whilst the sequel wasn’t up to much the first “Men in Black” was a fun movie which not only gave Will Smith a box office success but also a chart topping song. It’s very much the sort of performance we like from Smith, delivering plenty of humour mixed in with action and with the surprise pairing of Smith and Tommy Lee Jones working so well it’s a movie which is fun from start to finish.

8) Hancock (2008)

John Hancock is a troubled man, on one hand he has super powers and tries to use them to do goo, but he also loves his drink often leading his good intentions ending up with disastrous consequnces and a traile of destruction. But whilst trying to do a good turn by saving PR guy Ray Embrey from being hit by a train he inadvertently gets himself a new best friend who sets about improving Hancock’s public image. All of which is well and good but for some reason Ray’s wife is not to happy to see Hancock being welcomed into their home and not just because of his accident prone ways.

Right the first thing is that “Hancock” the movie is not great, it’s like two movies slapped into one and the blend just feels completely worng. But thankfully Will Smith as John Hancock does, with Smith creating a memorable bad ass hero and delivering a few moments of comedy with a lot of action. But like the movie Smith’s performance suffers with the first half being great whilst the second less than great.

7) I, Robot (2004)

In the year 2035 technology and robots have become part of life, much to the displeasure of Detective Del Spooner who takes a dislike to every robot he comes across. When Dr. Alfred Lanning, the man credited with creating robots in their present form, is found dead, Spooner is called in to investigate what many think is a suicide. But Spooner and his technophobic attitude leads him to suspect that Lanning’s death was not suicide but was murder, committed by a robot who somehow managed to kill despite rules preventing him.

To put it simply “I, Robot” is a Will Smith movie, a futuristic serious one but also an action movie. So what we get is Will Smith delivering a pumped up performance in more ways than one with him showing off his impressive physique as he works out whilst also delivering high paced action sequences all of which has a touch of humour to them, thanks to Smith’s delivery of sarcastic dialogue. Whilst a sort of serious movie, it’s hard to take it completely seriously but Smith delivers an impressive performance.

6) Bad Boys (1995)

Marcus Burnett is married and hen pecked, Mike Lowery is single and a ladies man but they are partners, working for the Miami Police. When a sizeable amount of drugs is audaciously stolen from the police safe house Burnett and Lowrey have just 72 hours to retrieve the stolen drugs and catch the criminals. Not that simple when a confussion leads to them having to pretend to be each other in order for a witness to come forth.

Although Will Smith had already shown his talents on the big screen you could say that “Bad Boy’s” was his first major movie where he was one of the main stars. It’s another one of those movies where he delivers exactly what people like, so we get action, we get comedy and Smith creating a smooth operator in Minke Lowery. But it’s as much to do with Martin Lawrence’s performance as Will Smith’s as to why the movie works creating a memorable cop partnership for a new era.

5) I Am Legend (2007)

In the year 2012, New York has been abandoned after a miracle cure for cancer mutates and leaves those who were treated with it into flesh eating zombie like beings. The only person left in New York is Robert Neville who is determined to discover the cure for this mutant virus even if it means he is faced with a daily battle to protect himself from these zombie like beings who roam the streets at night.

It has to be said that “I am Legend” is a movie which has ended up splitting audiences. Some were wowed by this sort of horror story whilst others felt it a weak adaptation of Richard Matheson’s original novel. Whether you like the movie or not what is for sure it’s a strong performance from Will Smith who not only is the only character in it for so much of the time but also delivers that sense of fear and loneliness of the last survivor in a once bustling city.

4) Ali (2001)

Covering the yers between 1964 and 1974 “Ali” is the story of boxer Muhammad Ali. A turbulent decade in the boxers life it covers aspect of him becoming a Black Muslim, his friendship with the influential Malcolm X, his decision to change his name plus is this relationships and marriages. And of course it covers his boxin career and his fight to be allowed to box again after refusing to join the US Military.

“Ali” is another one of Will Smith’s movie which splits audiences because for many it cover such a small part of the legendary boxer’s life but also because director Michael Mann has such a stylistic approach to movies that it often doesn’t feel like a mainstream movie. Whether you like it or not it’s hard to ignore the impressive performance of Will Smith as Muhammad Ali. Firstly the bulking up he did to physical resemblance Ali is stunning but he picks up all the little mannerisms, the quick feet, the way he pronounced words pretty much everything is spot on and it’s such a shame that the movie itself ends up splitting audiences because it’s one of Smith’s best performances.

3) Six Degrees of Separation (1993)

Are dealers Flan and Ouisa Kittredge (Donald Sutherland & Stockard Channing) are just about to go out for a mean when a young man shows up at their New York apartment claiming to having been mugged and in need of help. Introducing himself as not only the son of Sidney Poitier but also a friend of Flan & Ouisa’s children he delights them with tales of his life and prepares a meal in repayment for their kindness. But when the Kittredge’s insist he stays the night they are in for a shock as not everything is as what it seems and become determined to discover the truth surrounding this young man.

Considering that back in 1993 Will Smith was known more as for his comedy and in particular “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” watching him take on a serious role in a movie whose roots were on the stage is very impressive. In fact Smith’s performance as the charming and eloquent young man in “Six Degrees of Separation” is what makes it work as a movie and his delivery of some thoughtful monologues makes for powerful stuff.

2) Seven Pounds (2008)

Haunted by a tragic secret, Ben Thomas looks to help 7 deserving people in the hope of finding redemption through his acts. But when Ben puts his plans to help into motion nothing can stop them, except the didn’t take into account for falling for one of those he chooses to help who ends up transforming his life.

Even before I say anthing about the brilliant performance from Will Smith as Ben Thomas you have to say that “Seven Pounds” is an impressive, emotional and touching movie full stop which is brave and different from your normal mainstream fare. But much of what makes it so good is the top performance from Will Smith who takes on a difficult, almost mysterious character and makes us love him, champion him and when he feels emotion so do we.

1) The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Based upon the true story of Chris Gardner who during the 80s not only found himself pretty much penniless but also a single dad when his wife left him. Often forced to live rough, sleeping in toilets and queue up with others for a room in a hostel he manages to get himself on an internship to become a stock broker in the hope of making a better, more secure future for his son.

There is much that I can empathise with in Chris Gardner’s story and as such it’s a very touching and powerful storyline, made all the more better by a performance from Will Smith which should have won him an Oscar. He really gets into the mind of someone who hasn’t any money and shows the emotional side of not knowing where the next meal is to come from and the whole desperation of it. But at the same time it’s an inspiring performance and storyline making “The Pursuit of Happyness” my number 1 Will Smith movie.

WAR Leveling Guide – How to Level Fast in Warhammer Online

If you’re already involved within the battle for supremacy in Warhammer Online, than you must know that the game is focuses especially on PvP and RvR. Regardless of the class you choose to be in this universe, a vengeful Chaos Chosen, a Bright Wizard taming the power of flames or one of the silly goblin Squig Herders, before you can participate to the end game battles, you need to burn down 40 rank levels. This didn’t work for me as smoothly as I wanted, with my characters, so, to spice up things a little bit, I got my hands on a WAR Leveling Guide.

Using this WAR Leveling Guide I’ve managed to divide the XP methods in 4 categories. This helped me a lot to understand which one is best for me to follow and how to adapt my character to the game content, in order to be hasty with the XP. I will share below everything about the best ways to level up quickly and how to speed up your leveling.

WAR Leveling Guide – How to Level Fast in Warhammer Online Doing Scenarios

Scenarios are specific instance battlegrounds that anyone can play according to their character tier. Each zone has multiple scenarios and for hasten the leveling applying this method, choose the one with the easiest strategy, like Tor Anroc, located in Saphery. Each scenario has group of repeatable quests which, completed in any battle will add a nice amount of XP. But to be successful in any Scenario and dominate all the battles, a good group is needed. Me and my friends had a setup made of an Engineer with crowd control, 2 Bright Wizards for powerful AoEs and a Warrior Priest to keep our HP up. We were winning all the fights in short time and the XP was OK, but this happened only 1-2 times a week when all of us were able to be on at the same time. Without a good group setup this type of XP is not that fast.

WAR Leveling Guide – How to Level Fast in Warhammer Online Doing Public Quests

Just like in scenarios, completing Public Quests in a worthy manner requires also a good group. But in this case, the key elements in the setup are a tank and a healer. If the group has what it’s needed to take on PQs and complete them as fast as possible, the XP will fly and all the members of the party will get good gear and cash as well. But since a group with a good setup doesn’t grow on trees, this might not be the fastest way to hit the level cap.

WAR Leveling Guide – How to Level Fast in Warhammer Online with AoE Skills

This is indeed a quick way to level up, but only if your character has powerful AoE abilities, like a Sorcerer or a Bright Wizard. If AoE is an option, focus on spots with mobs grouped 4-5 and use all your mass abilities to “down” them before they reach you. You need to be very skilled to apply this method, to be able to kill more and die less. Doing this without a stop can be very effective and you get quite a nice amount of XP, plus valuable loot.

WAR Leveling Guide – How to Level Fast in Warhammer Online Doing PVE Quests

This method is the one that I like best. The WAR Leveling Guide I’ve been talking about is actually centered on this method. To be efficient with the XP by questing, do them in the perfect order to minimize the travel time and grinding and maximize the XP gain. All the quests were put into view in a step-by-step manner and I knew exactly where to go, what to do and how to do it. Being able to complete all the tasks at a fast rate, the XP is always smooth and fast. This method works best for a solo player.

How to Keep From Treating People With Disabilities Differently

Workshop Goals

To understand the history of American attitudes and legislation regarding people with disabilities;

To learn how to properly assist individuals with disabilities in a courteous and respectful manner;

To practice providing assistance to people with disabilities, both fellow employees and museum guests.

In order to gain the most out of the presentation, please:

  • Listen with an open mind;
  • Be respectful of each other;
  • Challenge your thinking;
  • Be willing to learn something new that you can use on the job!

Challenge Activity

Bean Bags

  • Place a bean bag on your head
  • Move to the music!
  • If your bean bag falls off your head, freeze until another player, without losing his/her beanbag, retrieves the fallen one and replaces it on the frozen person’s head.
  • If the rescuer loses his/her beanbag, then he/she is also frozen until another person appears to rescue them both.

What is the object of the game?

How do you “win”?

What is the advantage of picking up a classmate’s beanbag?

What is the Definition of a Disability?

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended by the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA), prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in several key areas including: state and local government services, places of public accommodation, employment, telecommunications and transportation.

The individual with a disability is a person who (3 part definition):

  • Has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities;
  • Has a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have the impairment; or
  • Being regarded as having such an impairment.

What is considered a disability?

The ADA does not list conditions that are considered disabilities; however it does list those which are not included.

Not covered by the ADA are homosexuality, bisexuality, transvestism, transsexualism, compulsive gambling, kleptomania, pyromania, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, other sexual behavior disorders.

The ADA does not cover individuals who are currently engaging in illegal drug use.

A short-term condition is generally is not a disability. The test is whether the impairment markedly limits major life activities when assessing the duration, scope, and impact of the impairment.

Small Group Activity

Divide into small to discuss your experiences and examples of instances you have assisted co-workers or museum guests with the following disabilities:

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Intellectual or Developmental
  • Emotional
  • Invisible

Remember that each person’s situation is unique!

Physical disabilities: a limitation on a person’s physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina; a short list of examples:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Amputation
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spina bifida
  • Musculoskeletal injuries (eg back injury)
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular dystrophy

Sensory impairment: a limitation of one or more of a person’s senses; including:

  • Hearing Loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Limited vision/Blindness
  • Loss of Smell
  • Spatial awareness

A person could be born with the impairment or could it could develop throughout the lifetime.

Intellectual disabilities – significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior, which covers social and practical skills. Originates before age 18 years. Affects approximately 3% of the population.

  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Down’s Syndrome
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Emotional

  • Mental illness has nothing to do with intelligence.
  • Mental illness is a condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and ability to relate to others.
  • Results in a diminished capacity for dealing with everyday life
  • Can include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and personality disorder.

The Invisibility of Disabilities

Be sensitive that disabilities come in a variety of types, and each person is an individual

The impact of a person’s disability may not be easily seen.

Person may be perceived as lazy, when in fact, the disability impacts his/her ability to learn, work, and function.

Teachers and peers may see only behavior problems or uncooperative behaviors, rather than accommodating the disability.

A Brief History of Legislation

1964 – Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act

1973 – Rehabilitation Act, Section 504

1990 – Americans with Disabilities Act – First comprehensive civil rights law for people with disabilities.

History, continued

2008 – ADA Amendments Act

Expanded definition of the term disability to include individuals with amputations, intellectual disabilities, Epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, Diabetes, Muscular Dystrophy, and cancer;

Strikes a balance between employee and employer interests;

Overturned two key Supreme Court decisions (Sutton vs. United Airlines, Inc. and Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. vs. Williams), where lower courts had found individual’s situation did not constitute a disability, therefore the question of discrimination had never been addressed.

American Attitudes – FDR

Franklin Delano Roosevelt

32nd President of the United States from 1933 to 1945.

Had suffered paralysis as a result of Polio.

Although the his use of a wheelchair was common knowledge, the wheelchair was not shown by the media.

Gather Your Thoughts

How do you feel about the cloaked FDR statue?

What do you think is more important: to respect President Roosevelt’s wishes OR to reflect modern views of people with disabilities?

How could this spectrum of opinion be reflected in the workplace?

As a manager, how do you work to bring understanding and acceptance among your staff, while following current ADAAA guidelines?

Let’s examine recent examples of people with disabilities who have achieved celebrity status!

Stevie Wonder

Born prematurely in 1950 in Michigan. Suffered retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), due to too much oxygen in the hospital’s incubator.

Began playing instruments at an early age and signed with Motown Records at age 11. Has had an amazing writing and recording career.

Celebrity spotlights can aid in bringing important issues into the spotlight.

Jim Abbott

Born in 1967, in Flint, Michigan, without a right hand

Baseball star for University of Michigan

Played in the 1988 Summer Olympics

Played Major League Baseball, and pitched a no-hitter in 1993 as a NY Yankee.

Amy Purdee

Born in 1979 in Las Vegas, Nevada

Contracted meningitis at age 19, resulting in double amputation below the knees and kidney transplant

Paralympic Athlete in Snowboarding – Bronze Medalist

Terminology Over Time

Crippled – an invalid and derogatory term that is no longer acceptable to describe people with disabilities;

Retarded – a medical term that can be used as a slur; no longer acceptable in everyday language:

Handicapped – something that hampers or hinders, such as in a race; no longer used in referring to people;

Normal people – avoid using this term when making a comparison, as this implies a person with a disability is not normal. Everyone is unique and has their own identity and abilities;

Person with a Disability – “people-first” language that focuses on the individual, not their condition.

Using People-First Language

American Psychological Association Style guide

  • Person’s name or pronoun first
  • Description of impairment or disability second
  • Descriptors should not modify or limit the person

Examples:

  • A boy with Down’s Syndrome, not “the Down’s Syndrome boy”;
  • Sydney has a hearing impairment, not “the deaf girl.”

Discussion: What Do You Do?

On the Job Situations You May Encounter

A guest arrives at an event with a cat in a stroller. She claims the cat is a service animal. Do you allow her entrance?

A group of 60 children is moving from the 1st floor exhibit to the 2nd floor through the only staircase in the wing. One child is on crutches. As the group’s tour guide, how do you handle the transition between floors?

What Do You Do?

Guidelines to Follow

  • If the guest claims the cat is with her as a service animal, the cat can be permitted to accompany her into the event. She does not need to produce any paperwork to justify the service animal.
  • Review the options with the student’s teacher/chaperone. If the child wishes to take the elevator, suggest a small group of students and an adult accompany her, so she does not feel alone or singled out.
  • Ask the guest if he would like to sit or hold onto in a chair inside the ride.

Employees with Disabilities: What is Reasonable Accommodation?

A reasonable accommodation is assistance or changes to a position or workplace that will enable an employee to do his or her job despite having a disability.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are required to provide reasonable accommodations to qualified employees with disabilities, unless doing so would pose an undue hardship

Examples of Reasonable Accommodations

  1. Providing a chair for a cashier who uses crutches so he or she can sit when not assisting customers.
  2. Reserving a parking space close to the entrance for an employee who has difficulty walking because of loss of a limb.
  3. Providing instructions and information in writing for an employee with hearing loss.
  4. Permitting a staff member to bring a service animal to work.
  5. Allowing an employee with tinnitus to play background music to help block out the ringing in his ears.
  6. Allowing more frequent work breaks or providing back-up coverage when an employee with a disability needs to take a break.
  1. Providing specialized equipment for an employee who has lost a hand or finger, such as a large-key keyboard, a one-handed keyboard, a trackball, a touchpad, or speech recognition software.

  2. Flexibility in scheduling to allow an employee with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to attend counseling sessions or offering a later start time to a staff member with a spinal cord injury who has a lengthy personal care routine.
  3. Decreasing distractions, providing information in writing, breaking down complex assignments into small steps for a person with a traumatic brain injury.
  4. Making sure equipment is within reach for an employee who uses a wheelchair.
  5. Adjusting the height of an office desk for a staff member who uses a wheelchair, and ensuring the space is not obstructed by wastebaskets or other items.

Unacceptable Practices

Examples of A Record or History of Disability

Examples:

  • An employer refuses to hire a qualified candidate due to a history of mental illness, even though the person has recovered sufficiently to perform all essential functions of the job.
  • A dentist refuses to treat a patient because he was diagnosed as having HIV, even though the diagnosis was proven to be incorrect.
  • A retail outlet fires a woman who is pregnant, because they assume she will not be able to work during the busy holiday season.

Unacceptable Practices

Regarded as Having an Impairment

Examples:

  • An employee has controlled high blood pressure, which is not substantially limiting. However, his employer fears that the employee will suffer a heart attack and reassigns the employee to a less strenuous job.
  • A person with a severe burn or scar does not actually have a disability. He may be regarded as having a disability when he faces discrimination based on people’s attitudes toward him.
  • An overweight candidate for a bus driver position is not hired because the employer assumes (without conducting tests) that she will not be able to move fast enough in case of an emergency.

Courtesy

Gum chewing – Do not chew gum when speaking to people with hearing loss. It makes you more difficult to understand

Stand in front – When speaking to people with hearing loss, stand directly in front, so they can see your lips

Paper and pencil – Have a paper and pencil ready, in case communicating through written word may be more effective than spoken word

Sit down – when speaking to a person in a wheelchair, take a seat! Looking upward may hurt their neck, and it is common courtesy to be at eye level.

Ask if the person wants help before acting – Do not assume that someone needs help. Have the respect and courtesy to ask how you may help, and then follow directions

Be patient – Do not roll your eyes, cross your arms, or rush a person who needs extra time.

Use people-first language – always refer to the person first and do not use their situation as a descriptor.

End of Session Quiz

You are at the Information Desk and a guest in a wheelchair has a question. What is the most courteous way to approach the interaction?

An employee you are managing has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She begins to walk with a cane, and is able to perform her job functions as school group facilitator in the laboratory. Discuss what types of accommodations can be made for her.

A child who uses crutches wants to watch the Dive Show at the Kelp Tank. All the seats are filled and many patrons have filled the open viewing area. How do you accommodate the child, so he can see the show?

List 3 new pieces of information that you learned, which you can use on the job.

1- Information Desk

Invite the guest to the side of the counter that is wheelchair accessible.

Sit at the chair, so you are eye-level.

Answer his questions respectfully.

Ask if the guest needs any assistance.

Ask if he is familiar with the location of the elevator.

2- Employee Accommodations

Review the employee’s job duties and discuss if any accommodations need to be made at this time, such as reassignment, additional time for tasks, use of a chair while working.

Make a plan to review her situation as needed, to see if any accommodations or a reassignment needs to be made.

For example, an employee who lead the student experiments in the laboratory could be reassigned to the Information Desk to answer the telephone with a headset.

3- Viewing the Show

  • Given that the situation involves a child, consult with the student’s parents or chaperone.
  • Ask if the child would like to sit by the tank or in the bleachers.
  • Show the family where the seating area for people with disabilities is located.
  • If someone is sitting in that area, respectfully work with the guest to find a spot for the child. Posted signs indicate that the are is reserved for people with special needs.
  • If there is no wiggle room, ask if the child would like a chair to sit, or ask a guest if they would mind moving over to accommodate the child.
  • Remember that you are responsible for the guests during the dive show. Feel empowered to make the situation pleasant for the guests, in a courteous manner. Call your supervisor if you need additional assistance.

WoW Hunter Professions – What’s the Best Profession For a Hunter to Take in Wotlk?

Usually Hunters in World of Warcraft have to make a decision between increasing their rank in their chosen professions and buying food for their pet. One way of avoiding this particular problem is to take two gathering professions. By doing this, everything you gather you sell and you won’t be worried about using up any of it because you won’t be able to, instead you can use the money to buy those items or consumables.

Taking two gathering wow hunter professions will allow you to simply gather up what you find along the way during your adventures and then selling them at the AH once you have a full stack of them. A lot of professionals who change professions at either 70 not so long ago, and from now on at 80 will prefer to farm the AH for cheap material rather than actually doing the gathering on their own.

Skinning is a great profession to take, because you’ll be killing a lot of creatures and the leather that you get from their hides will prove to be rather valuable in the long run. Sure at first it won’t fetch you incredible prices but as you level up and your prey levels up as well, you’ll see the amount of gold that you can charge for stacks of leather increase.

In the same vein Mining is a great gathering profession choice and one of my favorite because there is a need for ore and or bars at any given time in the game because there are three main professions that need metal: Blacksmithing, Engineering and Jewelcrafting.