Côtes du Rhône is the most memorably marketed wine region in the world according to a new survey of the UK trade.
When over 100 members the wine industry were asked by Wine Intelligence to name a region or country which was good at communicating itself, the Côtes du Rhône came joint first place with Chile, ahead of other prominent wine-producing places such as Bordeaux or New Zealand.
Then, when they were asked to whether they were aware of marketing activities from a range of named regions and countries, it was the Côtes du Rhône that came top by a significant margin.
Speaking to the drinks business about the results, Olivier Legrand, marketing manager at Inter Rhône, said he was “surprised”, but pleased.
“Seeing the results does make one want to sit down like an artist and admire your masterpiece, but you can’t, and these results create obligations for the future,” he remarked.
Inter Rhône sponsored the London Double Header rugby match in 2011 and 2012 but is switching its investment in 2013 to the Meltdown Festival
Looking back, Legrand said the Côtes du Rhône had no clear identity in any market 15 years ago, but that Inter Rhône had worked to position the region “at the heart of the French offer.”
As part of this, Legrand said the region had focused on promoting itself as “good value for money”, with an “image of pleasure and accessibility”.
Such messages were targeted at the UK – a key market for Côtes du Rhône – and augmented by what was initially an irreverent print campaign.
Launched in the late 90s were a series of posters comprising black and white cartoon animals featuring flashes of red, allied to the tagline “Think Red, Think Côtes du Rhône”.
However, as reported by the drinks business almost five years ago, Inter Rhône phased out the print advertising due to a fear the imagery may be seen to be targeting children, following advice from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The hippo and hedgehog were axed in 2008
“The ASA have said there could be a problem with the campaign and we don’t want to be the first French wine region with a problem,” said Legrand in April 2008.
Not only did the Rhône change the posters to a more sophisticated, but less amusing series of images, but it also increased the marketing spend.
Importantly, the approach was the same: the new pictures contained red patches within a range of situations allied to the same tagline: “Think Red, Think Côtes du Rhône”.
“We changed slightly the way we deliver the message, but the message is the same, we never changed our positioning or strategy in the UK,” stated Legrand.
Over the following pages are the results of the survey, showing the trade’s recall of marketing campaigns by a range of wine-producing regions and countries. The results make for surprising reading.