Robert Dwek hears about Bordeaux wine’s strategy for rebranding itself as a wine for younger drinkers
Selling French wine ain’t what it used to be. In the good old days, a
Bordeaux meant undisputed quality, a treat for discerning palates. Then
along came the New World wines, alarmingly free of snobbery and
Today’s wine buyers, spoilt for choice by an amazing array of exotic
grapes, are for the first time questioning the value of French
viticulture. They know it’s supposed to be the best, it’s just that they
can’t remember why.
Help is at hand. The Bordeaux Wine Trade Council - aka Le Conseil
Interprofessionnel du Vins de Bordeaux - the quality control body
representing 15,000 vineyards, is determined to get the message across
that its region’s wines are every bit as interesting, dynamic, relevant,
accessible, youthful and so forth as their Australian and American
That’s why last December it appointed the Paris office of TBWA to handle
a pounds 7 million pan-European advertising campaign (worth pounds 2
million in the UK) targeting the younger drinker (25- to 40-year-olds)
with the message that Bordeaux is an affordable wine that anyone can
TBWA won the pitch on the back of its strong branding proposals: it
suggested taking the existing Vins de Bordeaux logo - two bow-tied
glasses of red and white wine - and turning the image into something
stronger and ‘more surprising’. It also suggested associating the wine
more closely with food.
This has so far resulted in a series of press ads and posters that try
to transform Bordeaux into the most laid-back of drinks. The formality
of the bow-tie image is, for instance, heavily subverted in an ad that
shows a heap of chips arranged in the bow-tie shape, accompanied by the
words: ‘Fries. With a dash of Bordeaux.’
Another ad shows a steaming bowl of pasta, with the steam conveniently
forming a bow-tie shape. Yet another has a pizza with toppings that have
been sculpted into the same shape.
Media used for this campaign includes trendy magazines such as Time Out,
Loaded, the Face and Arena, as well as the likes of Elle, Marie Clare,
BBC Good Food Guide, Sainsbury’s the Magazine, and Vanity Fair. There
are also 48-sheet posters.
So far so good. But what is unusual about this image-shifting campaign
is that the client, having already appointed the ad agency, then decided
it wanted an integrated campaign - its first.
And so it was that in April of this year, Vins de Bordeaux appointed
TBWA Direct, TBWA London’s new sister agency, to handle a six-figure
Annick Martinez, head of European marketing at Vins de Bordeaux, says
the decision to try an integrated approach was prompted by through-the-
line work already done in other countries. ‘We think it’s a more
effective strategy, so it makes sense to try it in the UK, which is
anyway much more receptive to promotional activity than, say, Germany.’
She believes the advantages of strong point-of-sale support will be ‘to
increase the visibility and accessibility of the brand’. TBWA Direct’s
account manager, Mark Thomson, agrees: ‘Clients are realising that
they’ll get more bang for their buck by doing an integrated campaign.’
TBWA Direct has now been entrusted with raising Bordeaux’s image within
the independent retail trade. A point-of-sale promotion is already
underway and the agency is busy trying to get 1,000 retailers on board.
Linking in with the food theme, the promotion will feature free recipe
cards, a competition to win a weekend in Bordeaux and much window-
display material. Retailers will also be supplied with branded carrier
bags and tissue wrapping paper.
The participating retailers will also be able to enter their own
competition for a weekend in Bordeaux. Prizes will be awarded on the
basis of an exercise which will judge both the retailer’s knowledge of
the Bordeaux brand and the quality of their display.
In fact, the retailers are the main focus of this campaign, explains
Thomson, who is all too aware of the perils of poor point-of-sale
support. ‘Toshiba says that 40 per cent of consumers go into an
electronics retailer wanting to buy their brand but only 8 per cent
actually do - everybody else gets switch-sold by the sales staff.’
TBWA’s campaign is designed to prevent such a scenario. The key, Thomson
asserts, is to send a clear message, one which reinforces the above-the-
line work but does not distract from it. ‘We’re trying to take the
mystery out of Bordeaux - both for the retailer and the customer. A lot
of retailers, especially in the independent sector, are just as confused
as their customers about what Bordeaux is meant to stand for.’
Thomson says his agency will also be developing a database of Bordeaux
retailers for use in future marketing drives and ongoing communication.
Although the initial pitch was just for the September promotion, Thomson
will be ‘pushing it [the client] to do longer-term database activity’.
Vins de Bordeaux still has a lot to do in order to shift perception of
its brand. It will be some time before the benefits of above and below-
the-line working side by side become clear.
Even so, the logic seems hard to fault. As Maya Bhose, the group account
director at TBWA London, says: ‘It makes much more sense if a client is
doing advertising and also wanting to talk to the trade that its
strategy should be linked through the line. It makes the whole thing