SecretCellars Seeks Sad-Sack Stories

Share this content:, an e-commerce site dealing in rare wines and champagnes, is giving away a $1,500 bottle of 1996 Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon to the person who submits the most tragic dot-com story in 100 words or less.

"This trophy wine, which has achieved near cult status amongst the New Economy elite, will help you and your friends still live the good life even if your dot-com was a bomb," reads the Web site.

"We're giving poor dot-comers who had an awful time a chance to tell their story. People who tell the best stories are going to win," said Nancy Melone, CEO of, Santa Barbara, CA. "From a marketing perspective, we're trying to put some humor and fun into people's lives."

The contest has already received a significant number of entries from participants telling tales about how a dot-com inflated stock market sapped their life savings and the worthless options they received from once-promising jobs.

Here's one submission for the contest, called the Secret Cellars Dot-com Bomb Contest:

"I was born in 1969 and that's when my problems began and continued until my prestigious hiring at [a major online greeting cards site]. [Achieving this] validated my entire previous existence. ... [The company's] public offering failed and they fired everyone. Now I'm broke and I work for a free porn Web site. My mother cries when she sees me. Alcohol is, once again, my only friend."

Melone hopes to draw attention to the site via this publicity stunt.

"We wanted to spread the story that there's some really great wine out there," she said.

This is the second such effort this quarter targeting fallen Internet companies.'s Two-Minute Warning program is looking for Web companies that have less than $1 million in funding, have not raised any capital since their last round of funding, and have had one or more publicly announced rounds of layoffs. will hand-select a number of companies that fit this criteria and will give them free positioning on its search engine. Typically, companies have to pay for click throughs from the site.

The Dot-com Bomb contest will run through Dec. 13. Three runners-up will receive a case of wine valued at $500.

SecretCellars' offerings include a corporate gift program featuring a wine-of-the-month program and customized packaging. The program was created by Gregory FCA, Ardmore, PA.

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