Wine Australia goes for Experiential Marketing: the Pros and a Con

Wine Australia launched its marketing strategy yesterday at the Savour Australia conference in Adelaide. They will work with Tourism Australia as part of an Australian tourism strategy to use Food and Wine as a reason to come to Australia. The advertising campaign creative will be “Restaurant Australia” and promote great eating places, with great people, enjoying great wine and food product.

Does it sound like the literal marketing 4Ps: Place, People, Product and Promo, in an advert? Sort of, and is one of it’s advantages, but what they are really doing is experiential marketing, and it is a standard alcoholic beverage strategy put on steroids. Alcoholic Beverage companies say brands are built On-Premise, in restaurants and bars, or in special events. If a consumer has a great experience while drinking brand X then he or she will remember that at future drink purchasing time, and buy it as a wonderful memory of a great time. More and more products are selling the experience around them rather than the product itself. So big tick there.

PremiumWineOnAussieBeachMarketingClassic Wine Regional Marketing Organisation strategy is to push varietal plus/or terroir. The Restaurant Australia campaign will no doubt include the beautiful shots of people eating in Barossa & McLaren Vale vineyards with rolling hills and a Kangaroo in the background. So the Regional RMOs are also grinning, and probably asked Tourism Australia “so tell me how much money are you going to spend again!?”, a thousand times last night. Big tick there.

The strategy, from a Wine Australia perspective, makes sense from a 40,000 ft view. Having the largest government funded marketer pay for your marketing seems to have the Australian wine industry grinning from ear to ear. Rightly so. Huge tick there, Wine Australia take a bow.

My Concern

When I came to the conference I expected the main theme to be around changing the overseas perception (by which I really mean the US and UK) of Aussie wine being cheap. Essentially profitability of higher price points being the objective. I sort of expected the First Family to be front and center, with tastings proving the point. There has been some discussion of this, and I get a Landmark tasting today, but not the pure focus I assumed, so perhaps my assumption is incorrect. However if repositioning Australian Wine as a more premium option is a key objective then the marketing campaign is going to be problematic.

The problem is the tension between attracting tourists to have wonderful down to earth experiences in Australia and positioning Aussie wine as a premium offering. This tension will come to a head at creative execution time. Tourism Australia will probably want to show tourists enjoying a BBQ on the beach with their Australian friends. A fun and happy occasion, perfect for a cheap and cheerful wine. At which stage Wine Australia steps up and says, “Wait, a what? Cheap. No, no, no. The execution should be the tourists sitting with some sophisticated friendly folk at a long table cover with a white tablecloth at an iconic premium restaurant.” And then probably back down to a luxurious romantic picnic with the same people. But it is a premium occasion.

I keep coming back to occasions. BBQ occasions (Footy on TV, close friends at the pub, etc) are the classic time for bringing along a cheap wine. Steve Heimoff even refers to wines that are good for a BBQ as sort of code for wine you, er, “don’t have to think about“. If Tourism Australia chooses the wrong occasions to promote Australian wine then they will be reinforcing current positioning of Aussie wine rather than a new premium positioning.

Wine Australia will need to “offer” lots of assistance to Tourism Australia to ensure this doesn’t happen. If they can get a seat at the ad agency creative presentations and veto the use of wine at the wrong occasion then all is good. If not, then I’ll be thinking, “where the bloody hell were ya”.

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  • Michael Bian

    This is a good post, thanks..