Monday, January 24, 2005


First, let me say (again for those who have difficulty discerning the forest from the trees) that there are quite of few wineries (mostly medium and small), that are doing a great job of making the image of their wines fun and appealing. That is, marketing their wine as a beverage or at the least marketing wine in a fun package or an entertaining way. Boony Doon, comes to mind as a stand out. Even George DuBeouf (indeed, a French company!) has created a great multicolor package on some of their bottles, and their yearly Beaujolais Nouveau parties are always a hoot. There are more examples but they are all created by individual winery efforts, not by an industry-wide campaign.

Second, this is a thumbnail sketch of the idea, the proposal itself is quite detailed.

Now then, what I am talking about here is an effort by the wine industry or a wine industry group to more EFFECTIVELY market wine here in the U.S, as measured by increased wine sales. Sell more wine by getting new customers, an amazing concept.

The idea, in its general application, has been done with dozens (hell, practically every one that is advertised) of other beverages, and with great success. There is nothing to indicate that it will not work with wine. The concept is simple, a touring road show to display and hype a new product. Wine isn’t a new product but we are marketing a NEW image for the product of wine. And not the high end or cult wines, they can be off in their own wonderland.

The SOLUTION: The Wine Bus (eventually two buses). A customized motor coach that will travel the country, sponsoring events, creating a presence at specific events, rolling out product and packaging experiments, surveying wine drinkers and potential wine drinkers. Essentially, The Wine Bus would be a mobile marketing machine, a laboratory for new product marketing and packaging testing, an engine for the change of the image of wine in the US. Ok, that’s a little much but the point is the same.

The GOAL: to use The Wine Bus as a touring marketing campaign to increase the exposure of wine to specifically targeted demographics in specifically targeted areas. The Wine Bus would tour key metropolitan areas. The industry has a pile of research information available on which areas and events have high potential for ‘new’ 'marginal' and ‘infrequent' wine drinkers.

**Now here is where you people who couldn’t market water to a thirsty person are scratching your heads going, “Now what could that do?”. Ok, try to follow along, its called marketing, keep reading.**

The Wine Bus would be a custom motor coach (like the ones decked out to take rock stars or John Madden around). Of course, it would be brightly painted with ‘The Wine Bus’ across the sides, a web site address and an 800 number with the ‘The Wine Bus’ city schedule and the events. The website supporting The Wine Bus tour would be fun and informative, and a critical part of the total campaign.

The Wine Bus would sponsor and or participate in a variety of specifically targeted events (no NASCAR or WWE). All the traditional media resources would be used to promote the tour. Radio spots, TV coverage “The Wine Bus has arrived in _____ and KWNE is here to talk to”. Present a clear message “The Wine Bus travels around showing the simple pleasures of drinking wine” - repeat it often to the media. One of the first stops of The Wine Bus would be in front of the various morning show street facing studios in Manhattan. The Wine Bus would not mention or promote cult or high ticket wines, most likely the crew of The Wine Bus would make fun of those wines.

And if you read this space, you know we won't be offering Wine Bus logo Riedel glasses. No, we'll give people plastic party cups. You know, the kind you used to have for keg parties. We're not after the sniff, swirl, spit, crowd anyway...

The crew of the bus would have to be versatile. The crew would have to be both pulchritudinous and capable. These people would have to plan and run projects, accumulate data on reactions to featured products, packaging experiments, presentations, sales pitches (it sounds like a season of "The Apprentice"). Keep the crew and support crews for each of the Buses lean and relatively autonomous. The campaign would have to liaison with wine distributors (at least the distributors of whatever wineries backed the project), in order to follow through on the exposure and track results.

We would also attempt to pitch the idea of having a TV series about picking one of the crews of The Wine Bus, to the Food TV Network or Travel and Leisure channel, etc. Great Fun could be had with that. Of course, I would include the use of ‘The Wine Wenches”TM, at certain events. The Wine Wenches would be the equivalent of ‘The Yaeger Girls’, Swedish Bikini Team, etc, but a tad more sophisticated, with a minty freshness that no one can resist. The Wine Wenches would work the wine taps (yes, wine taps, built right into the bus, serving non branded varietal wines) Of course it would have to be a national search to find the Wine Wenches, but that would be part of the total Wine Bus campaign. The Wine Wenches would not be used at every event.

Avoid gratuitous prurience, but leverage the sophisticated gimmickery.

Who would pay for the bus: Good question. First, remember this is a results oriented project, the goal is to increase wine sales. A key component of the program would be to track wine sales after The Wine Bus has come through a particular area. It would be the best advertising money the wine industry, collectively, has ever spent. Some of the big conglomerates could probably pay outright, but maybe a consortium (like the Wine Marketing Council but actually effective and interested in verifiable results - See 'Marketing to Millenials') could be put together to fund the project.

For the money the Wine Marketing Council has spent over the last few years on those cute posters you see in Food & Wine magazine (which I defy anyone to attribute an increase of wine sales) two nicely appointed and crewed custom motor coaches could be put on the road. For a tenth of what has been thrown away supporting Copia (what a freakin waste of money, put a wine/food appreciation center in Napa, just BRILLIANT). For a portion of what Robert Mondavi spent on that stellar TV campaign “Woodbridge: Wood, like, a wine barrel, and bridge, like, well, a bridge”.

Give me two Wine Buses, as the centerpieces of the campaign, and two years and I will demonstrably increase wine consumption and the image of wine in the US for males and females below the age of 44. The devil is in the details they say, and I have plenty of details.

Wake up wine industry; join in the modern marketing of beverages. Go run through the vineyard with a lyre singing the praises of wines glorious history. Knock yourself out, what you have been doing has been really effectively thus far. The Wine Bus. . . . . .its time has come.

I’m available to pitch this to whatever group will listen, or at least sit still.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Sounds like a good idea. Sort of like the Oscar Mayer Wiener-mobile, only for potential wine (dare I say it?) wienies. :)

As you stated, the devil is indeed in the details. Beverages have always been Marketed with big vehicles touting sales slogans and logos (how many trailers do you see on the freeway with Bud, Miller or Heineken emblazoned on their sides as opposed to any wine trucks?), and there was plenty of bimbo-rific precedent in place long before Sydney Frank funded the arrival of the Jagermeister Girls (now THERE'S a guy who should be masterminding the wine campaign)!

The hump that will most need to be crossed is the idea that wine is a drink denoting class, elegance and breeding. The industry has worked long and hard to promote that vision and they're paying for it now in the sense of lost market share in the beverage category. I suspect that the producers of mass market branded wines are going to be the people most interested in the proposal (and most able to fund it) to fill a bus filled with wine ambassadors who in previous decades might otherwise have joined Up With People or starred in Pepsodent commercials.It all goes to changing the perception of wine from being an elitist beverage into it being an alternative to select when you're thirsty.

Good luck!

Good luck!

January 25, 2005 8:54 AM  
Blogger Huge said...

Thanks for your comments, I agree with your comments about Sydney Frank and I'm glad to report that he's launching a line of wines from both Italy and California. I'll be watching closely, because I think Sydney "gets it".


January 25, 2005 10:01 AM  

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