The Wine Industry Gets Inspired By Experiential Spirits Marketing Campaigns

“Experiential” marketing campaigns are nothing new, but up until now they’ve largely been the preserve of spirits brands and producers. Memorable recent campaigns include Campari’s narrowboat pop-up on a London canal and Bacardi-owned Bombay Sapphire’s ‘The Grand Journey’ event held in London which featured a gin train called the Laverstoke Express and dishes from Michelin-starred chef Tom Sellers.

In the heart of Edinburgh Diageo’s Johnnie Walker whisky brand submitted plans earlier this year for a dynamic visitor centre. The seven-storey building will feature retail space, a rooftop bar, an academy for those keen to learn more, and a flexible events space to be used for arts performances.

These types of marketing strategies provide consumers with a unique and authentic experience. They’re excellent at engaging with consumers, boosting media coverage, and generating a real buzz around a brand name, so it is no surprise that wine brands are starting to embrace a more creative approach in their marketing to reach new audiences.

One recent example is Rioja producer Ramon Bilbao which celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Mirto brand in a stylish townhouse in Madrid’s Salamanca district. Consumers, sommeliers, journalists and buyers were amongst those invited who were treated to an immersive experience set in the 1920s. Highlights included meeting Ramón Bilbao himself and a sensorial journey through the unique features of Mirto using dark chocolate, vanilla and myrtle scents, and the stony Rioja soil. 

“Everyone does tastings for a new release,” commented Ramon Bilbao’s director, Rodolfo Bastida. “We try to do things differently.” The event was also unusual in that it was mainly aimed at consumers, explained Remi Sanz, Zamora’s global brand manager; “We actually didn’t invite Spanish press. They already know what we do. It was very much something we did for the consumers.”

Other wine brands have focused on buyers and journalists directly, like Moët and Chandon’s so-called ‘Moët Academy’ which took place in London in 2015 and again in 2016. Inside the OX02 venue overlooking the Thames guests were invited into the Champagne vineyards with real vines recreating the scenery. The experience also included a full tasting of the Moët & Chandon collection.

Experiential marketing campaigns like these represent an exciting new opportunity for wine brands to engage with both consumers as well as buyers, press, and the hospitality sector. Providing memorable and unusual experiences helps create a buzz around a brand as well as building brand loyalty amongst consumers in an age when social media sharing and word of mouth recommendations are strong drivers of purchasing behaviour.

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