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harvey steiman at large

Available Critters

Photo by: David Yellen

Posted: Feb 9, 2007 6:12pm ET

Some months ago I made note of all the creatures I had encountered on Australian wine labels. I had been trawling through some low-priced wines, looking for good values, and had found in one tasting alone a blue-tongued lizard, penguins, cockatoos, pumas, sheep and yabbies. In a tasting earlier this week I found a galah (a sort of parrot) and another sheep.

We already have plenty of kangaroos, emus and lizards on Australian labels, plus the occasional dingo. Most of these labels stem from the enormous marketing success of Yellow Tail, which features a kangaroo on its label. It's getting to the point where I wonder if the list of unused options might be shorter.

I seem to recall seeing koalas, wallabies, crocodiles, kookaburras, even a Tasmanian devil. The Greg Norman Estates wines carry a multicolor sketch of a great white shark, the golfer's logo.

Although I found a Tasmanian tiger on a beer label, I don't recall any wine labels with one, nor have I seen any platypus, echidnas, wombats or goannas, as purely identified with Australia as these creatures might be.

Nor do I remember any Australian wine labels showing my favorite Down Under animal, the thorny devil. (How did Devil's Lair miss that one?) It's a strange-looking creature that lives in the arid Red Center and wears a unique form of camouflage. It's also shaped like a scuffed-up rock.

I found a website called "Unique Australian Animals," which may be the lodestone for marketers of cheap Aussie wines looking for critters for their labels. As a service to future marketing champions, I compiled a short checklist of potential label animals. Some of them might take considerable imagination to utilize, but I'll bet some genius out there will find a way to do it: cassowarry, giant cuttlefish, green tree ant, quokka, quoll (very furry and cute), sea eagle, sugar glider, Tasmanian pademelon (a very cute, smallish relative of the kangaroo), thylacine (Tasmanian tiger), western swamp tortoise.

Good luck, marketing experts.

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