Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Wine Marketing Campaigns - Part 1

Wine Marketing Campaigns. . Part I

Despite some evidence that Gen-X and Millennials are drinking more wine and definite evidence and recognition that the industry is losing ground with 'marginal drinkers' (despite the success of the Charles Shaw brand, but that's a different article). The wine industry, collectively and individually, is doing its right best to bore young adult consumers away from wine consumption. Marketing campaigns seem to be designed to be as boring and staid as possible, reinforcing the very perceptions that limit wine sales growth. Maybe that's what they think the 35+ demographic likes, nice boring ad campaigns. And marketing to women? Forget about it.

Wine ads on TV are almost universally bad. Remember the Woodbridge TV ads "Wood, as in a wine barrel, and Bridge, like. . .well, a bridge. Woodbridge" (Dear Gopia - Goddess of Abundance, do they really think that sells wine???), and their other ad, a non voiceover number, something about bridging generations or social situations. Sublimely horrible. Most TV wine ads are seasonal and simple reaffirmations of the brands. KJ and Gallo put out some nice unexciting TV ads (Gallo usually supports a launch with a TV ad campaign, example, Gossamer Bay, Turning Leaf, Bella Sera, etc). We've all had our fair share of schmaltzy Tott's and Cooks "champagne" ads around the Christmas/New Year season. Chandon had a fairly good TV ad this past holiday season, except you could only see it on the Food Network on cable. Prime time ads, forget about it.

But let's look at print ads. Generally horrible. And usually found in wine and lifestyle type magazines. So why market to people who already drink wine. Aaahhhh, yeah, I have no idea either. Oh I could give a rather convincing marketing argument, but nothing that would pass in the light of real world.

So what is the problem? Image. The industry and few wineries want to tarnish the image of wine as sophisticated and lifestyle oriented by using humor and irreverence and maybe a touch of prurience to sell (there are notable exceptions, which will be covered in another article). And there in lies the problem. By the very industry that produces it, wine is NOT considered a beverage, to be consumed with equal pleasure with food or by itself. Rather it is a lifestyle choice. Rather it is something to be savored and contemplated in combination with food only. That's the dogma, it runs deep and is perpetuated daily not only by the industry but by a majority of the food and beverage service industry.

The wine marketing council's ads ( are a fair attempt, but where is the follow-up? The event sponsorships? No, no, it’s the number of 'media impressions' that count. Let's go crazy for a moment. Let's pretend wine is a beverage, an ALCOHOLIC beverage even. Why spend millions for TV and print ads reinforcing the pretensions of wine to a demographic that already drinks wine? If wine sales in the United States are going to grow beyond the lethargic current rates then the IMAGE of wine has to change. Target the 21-35 demographic, target women, try some packaging variations, make the image of wine fun and unpretentious and market wine like a, say it with me now, a BEVERAGE.

How exactly? The Huge Johnson World of Wine has a plan. Stay Tuned . . .


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