Technically, the signing of Australia’s second-best Test spinner, Stuart MacGill, by Wolf Blass should be a leading contender for Crikey’s “Fantastic Gratuitous Ashes Promotional Tie-Ins!” competition.

The link between a cricketer and wine with an eagle for a symbol appears tenuous at best but Wolf Blass has already been reaping the media rewards big time.

The Herald Sun’s “Pulse” column yesterday devoted most of the page to a frothy interview with the spinner, asking for his favourite wine of the brand’s range, and asking what sort of wine various teammates would be.

But yesterday’s announcement of MacGill as a Wolf Blass “ambassador” at the SCG (the wine company’s mascot eagle was flown in the cargo hold down from the Gold Coast) has had the kind of media coverage that a Holden blimp could only dream of.

The Hun’s sporting equivalent of page three and the front page of the Hun’s website were dominated by photos and stories of MacGill and the eagle.

The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian also weighed in, while you get the sense that the only reason the Wolf Blass eagle didn’t dominate the Daily Telegraph’s front page was because of a sick Wiggle.

The wine label’s brand manager, Nicole Lyons, chose the word “thrilled” over “stunned” when asked about the blanket coverage. “It’s always hard to know what will catch the media’s imagination so we’re very happy,” she told Crikey.

MacGill is no certainty to even make the Ashes Test team but Lyons said he was a character and always had something to say (hard to argue with that), while he was also a long-time wine buff, with a large personal cellar and knowledge of local wines.

In fact, “the Gorilla”, being a fringe member of the team, might even be better for Foster’s-owned Wolf Blass, which is looking to raise awareness of the fact it has been a sponsor of the Australian Test team since 2001 (hence the cheeky chardonnay that Boonie used to hold as he belted out “Under The Southern Cross I Stand”).

The label is working with radio station Triple M to develop twilight games of cricket in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, to coax an after-work crowd to enjoy a BBQ, sample wine and watch teams of celebrities and state cricketers frolic.

MacGill is set to captain one of the teams, Ashes commitments permitting.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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