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Rhône marketing declared most memorable

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.

When the UK trade were asked to name a wine-producting country or region which is good at promoting itself, Chile and Côtes du Rhône were the most mentioned (see bar chart below).

It’s interesting to see Malbec also gets a mention when the UK weren’t prompted, while Portugal appears effectively marketed according to those sampled, coming ahead of Australia, France and Spain.

Source: Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac UK trade survey, Dec 2012 to Jan 2013. Sample of 103 UK wine trade “experts”

When it came to “prompted awareness” of marketing activities, the Côtes du Rhône was clear leader, while Portugal, New Zealand and France failed to feature. Once again, Chile performed well, as did Bordeaux.

Source: Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac UK trade survey, Dec 2012 to Jan 2013. Sample of 103 UK wine trade “experts”

In terms of marketing efficacy, Côtes du Rhône also came top, with Chile not far behind. Argentina is also deemed effective in its promotions, along with Bordeaux, Australia and South Africa. Meanwhile, France and New Zealand did not feature in this chart, which was based on “prompted perceptions”.

Source: Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac UK trade survey, Dec 2012 to Jan 2013. Sample of 103 UK wine trade “experts”

Finally, when the UK wine trade were asked which French regions have been memorable and effectively communicated over the last two years, once more, the Côtes du Rhône came top, just ahead of Bordeaux and notably, well ahead of Champagne, which until now, did not feature in the results.

Source: Wine Intelligence, Vinitrac UK trade survey, Dec 2012 to Jan 2013. Sample of 103 UK wine trade “experts”

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