db Awards winners revealed
The results of The Drinks Business Awards for 2013 were announced yesterday at a ceremony at the London International Wine Fair.
A range of personality awards were also revealed, including those for Young Achiever, Man and Woman of the Year, along with the winners in other hard-fought categories such as Retailer and Drinks Company of the Year.
db also announced this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was given to Michael Cox, European director at Wines of Chile and Master of the Worshipful Company of Vintners for this, the organisation’s 650th year.
An extremely moving tribute was paid to Michael by his twin, David, who is the new chief executive of The Benevolent – the drinks trade charity.
The winners can be viewed over the following pages, while the shortlist for each category can be seen here.
db is very grateful to its judges for giving up the time to read through the awards entries as well as providing their expert views. It is also extremely grateful to its primary sponsor of the awards, Norbert Dentressangle.
db is also grateful to Brintex for its support, Glencairn Crystal for the trophies, as well as Concha y Toro for supplying the sparkling wine poured during the event, Ty Nant for the water, and Marqués de Cáceres for the still white and red wines which were also served.
Best Design & Packaging – Wine
Winner: Small but Perfectly Formed by Barlow Doherty
Despite its diminutive size, it was an 187ml wine brand that won the hearts and minds of judges this year.
Called Small but Perfectly Formed, the package was created by Barlow-Doherty specifically for the single-serve sector, currently dominated by scale-down versions of big brand wines.
The range has been devised according to variety, with each grape featuring a different animal small enough to appear at its life size on the label.
To emphasise the tiny nature of each creature, a ruler appears down one side of the label. Both pretty and clever, the judges loved the thoughtful approach to a difficult brief, and felt it would sell well among its target market – above all women with limited wine knowledge.
The brand has been developed for Vivas – the Bibendum-3663 joint venture for the on-trade.
Best Design & Packaging – Spirits
Winner: Olmeca Altos Tequila by Coley Porter Bell
A high number of extremely impressive entries made this a particularly hard category to judge but in the end one package stood out for the quality of its design and execution.
That product was Olmeca Altos Tequila, designed by Coley Porter Bell. The judges praised its contemporary take on fashionable 50s design cues. “It has a retro feel, which looks current,” summed up one judge. The look, which was unveiled in September 2012, has also been instrumental in the brand’s success in the US.
Since the repackage by Coley Porter Bell, Olmeca Altos has grown its distribution in the US by 85% in the off-premise and 266% in the on-premise.
Bartenders also report that the bottle is easy to pour from and robust enough to stand up to busy periods.
Runner-up: Glenfarclas Diamond Jubilee Decanter by Specialty Drinks
The judges were also highly impressed by the Glenfarclas Diamond Jubilee Decanter. Despite the limited budget and production run, this specialist piece of packaging was deemed high quality, attractive and well targeted.
Special commendation: The Whisky Advent Calendar by Master of Malt
Congratulated for the cleverness of the concept, the judges felt The Whisky Advent Calendar deserved a special commendation. “I love the idea,” said one judge, while another praised it for avoiding any Christmas design clichés.
Best Design & Packaging – Beer
Winner: Badger Ales by Brand Opus
The brief to redesign the Badger brand from Dorset brewer Hall & Woodhouse may not at first appear particularly difficult.
However, taking this established logo and making it appear both more prominent on the label – and more modern – was no easy task.
However, the judges felt that Brand Opus had done an excellent job, refreshing the look, modernizing the feel, as well as emphasizing the product’s rural roots.
Little details like the badger’s paw were also praised by the judges, while it was felt the new package had successfully given this brand a more premium feel and distinct personality.
Furthermore, since the new look was unveiled last year, all products in the range have enjoyed significant sales increases.
Winner: Penfolds Ampoule
Last year saw Australian producer Penfolds make a headline-grabbing break from the traditional fine wine launch with the creation of its 12 glass ampoules.
At £100,000 each, these were placed into some of the world’s most exclusive outlets, but generated a buzz for the brand that resonated far further afield.
Praised by the judges as “edgy” and even “quite brave”, the Penfolds Ampoule was hailed as a launch that “lifts the wine trade out of its comfort zone.”
Runner up: Gallo Moscato
With Gallo Moscato, the judges wanted to reward a “textbook” launch strategy that combined real category innovation with a fully integrated campaign.
With actress Holly Valance adding a touch of glamour and Gallo Moscato house parties, the brand showed streaks of originality in appealing to a clearly identified target audience.
Best Contribution to Wine and Spirits Tourism
While the New World has long embraced wine tourism, many parts of Europe are less adept at encouraging visitors to discover their region. With Hacienda Zorita, the parent company of United Wineries has created a five star showcase for the Duero.
While the region’s wines form a central part of the visitor experience, Hacienda Zorita also offers a snapshot of the Duero’s rich history, natural beauty and gastronomy.
Best Trade Campaign
Winner: Think Red, Think Côtes du Rhône by Inter-Rhône
“It is just so high-profile in the trade,” said one judge about the Think Red campaign from Inter-Rhône. Another praised it for the simple, consistent message, and as a result, the region’s prominent position in the UK market, despite strong competition from other French regions.
And the evidence for its efficacy was strong: Côtes du Rhône is the most memorably marketed wine region in the world according to a Wine Intelligence survey of the UK trade.
So, when over 100 members the wine industry were asked by the company to name a region or country which was good at communicating itself, the Côtes du Rhône came joint first place with Chile, and ahead of other well-known wine-producing places such as Bordeaux or New Zealand.
Best Consumer Campaign – Wine
Morrison’s taste test was praised by the judges as a well-executed attempt to simplify the wine selection process without resorting to price promotion.
The new approach attempts to determine shoppers’ preferred wine style with a series of questions about their taste in hot and soft drinks and use of salt.
“It is important and useful for those who are intimidated by the wine aisle,” said one judge, while another added, “It is completely relevant to the issues facing the wine sector.”
Furthermore, those who were disappointed by the selection tool were mostly “wine freaks” according to the judges. The in-store and online marketing was also lauded for its use of a third party – Wine Intelligence – to audit its efficacy. Finally, as one judge remarked, “Anything that takes people away from just what’s on promotion get’s my vote”.
Best Consumer Campaign – Spirits
Although benefitting from a big budget, the judges felt that Beefeater had used it to maximum effect with its striking My London campaign. Launched in October 2012 with a £100,000 spend, the campaign encouraged Londoners to submit photos conveying the capital’s spirit for the chance to appear on a limited edition Beefeater bottle.
Uploaded via www.beefeaterginmylondon.com, the website featured a map of London highlighting the latest entries from each region. Helping to judge the entries were Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design, while The Evening Standard acted as media partner.
Finally, the best entries and finished bottle were displayed in Covent Garden, using an 8m high projection. According to Beefeater the brand reached an audience of over 5m people.
Logistics Company of the Year
A drinks-specialist offshoot of DHL, Tradeteam has adapted to the changing market by successfully diversifying beyond its core beer business into the wine sector. More importantly, its partnership with Bibendum shows the thorough, professional manner in which it has executed this shift. As one of the judges remarked: “They’ve come in during a difficult period, spotted an opportunity and made themselves irreplaceable.”
Best Responsible Drinking Campaign
Winner: Love your liver – Halewood/Wm Morrison
Of the raft of impressive and well-targeted responsible drinking campaigns it was Halewood and Morrison’s Love Your Liver that garnered the most votes.
“It’s a simple message, and I love it,” said one judge.
Tied in to Halewood’s Eisberg alcohol-free wine, the Love Your Liver campaign unites The British Liver Trust, Halewood International and Morrison’s, and comprises a roadshow with a branded mobile clinic and free instant liver tests.
“Liver disease is the most dangerous aspect of alcoholism and it’s a silent killer – you don’t know the damage until it’s too late,” commented a judge.
“I like it because it presses those buttons that make you think ‘oops,’” said another.
It was also lauded for encouraging responsible drinking without the negative PR. As one judged summed up, “It doesn’t demonise drinks.”
Special commendation: Cellar Trends
It was felt that Cellar Trends should be commended for its efforts to promote the Drinkaware message: “Why let good times go bad?”. Although the company is using existing materials, the judges praised the company for taking the message into bars and clubs in the UK and making it highly visible among young people.
PR Company of the Year
Winner: Hope & Glory
Although many established PR companies featured in this year’s shortlist, it was relative newcomer Hope & Glory that won 2013’s award. Started in late 2011, the company won £32,000 worth of drinks-related business in its first six months, which grew to over £150,000 by the end of the year. Among the campaigns from the company were Hops in a Box for Meantime Brewery and a Titanic-inspired Scotch for The Glenrothes. The judges were impressed by the rapid growth of the company – which now comprises 10 employees – and the results of its campaigns.
They also appreciated the personal nature of Hope & Glory’s awards pitch, which conveyed the sense of team spirit at the company.
Runner-up: Story PR
A close runner-up in this category was Story PR, which was praised for its excellent entry, high profile clients and impressive results. Its Talisker Storm launch with weatherman Michael Fish was notable for both its wit and impact.
On-trade Supplier of the Year
Winner: Jascots Wine Merchants
Jascots’ fantastic presentation managed to convey the company’s impressive, ambitious achievements in the last year while at the same time capturing the enthusiastic personality of its team. From its flexible service, independently commissioned customer feedback surveys, trailblazing environmental focus and expertly compiled wine portfolio, this is a dynamic company on a clearly defined mission to improve its already excellent service.
Drinks Company of the year
Winner: Bibendum Wine
In a category crammed with high quality entrants one company stood out for its creative approach to tastings, innovative marketing, embrace of new opportunities, and willingness to take risk. That operation is Bibendum Wine. The judges are aware this is a controversial decision – the wine supplier had to lay off three of its directors late last year to cut overheads, while it admitted that the Olympic wine campaign the company clinched last summer was a “disappointment”.
However, the company was praised for desire to grasp opportunities, take brave decisions, develop new trade tools and react quickly to market conditions.
Furthermore, Bibendum, acutely aware of the challenging nature of current trading conditions in the UK, has diversified its business, with, for example, a push on spirits. It has also continued to invest in new tools for the on-and off-trade, such as the creation of a new grape variety app, as well as The Taste Test, adopted by Morrison’s.
As one judged summed up, “Bibendum are prepared to take risks and really want to move the wine category forward.”
Independent Retailer of the Year
Winner: Roberson Wine
2012’s runner-up, Roberson Wine was this year declared a winner. The independent retailer was particularly highly praised for its “Wine School”, which comprises a well-written online course, as well as its wine club and series of impressive tastings, along with its comprehensive and beautifully presented entry.
As one of the judges remarked, there are retailers addressing the bottom and very top of the market, but the middle is particularly difficult, because you need dedication and faith to capture that elusive consumer who buys wine between £15 and £50 a bottle – and Roberson has that dedication and faith.
Speaking of the shop’s founder, another judge commented, “Cliff Roberson is the kind of person the wine business could do with more of.”
Special commendation: Laithwaite’s
It was widely felt that Laithwaite’s deserved a special commendation for the skill of its personal wine advisors and its clever Classic FM campaign, which one judge described as “brilliant”.
Retailer of the Year
Winner: Dubai Duty Free
Against the cutthroat competition of the UK’s multiple retailers, the captive audience of a duty free environment might appear to offer a weak comparison. However, judges were blown away by the quality of service, excellent merchandising and specialist selection available through this luxury retailer that sold over US$235 million-worth of wines and spirits in 2012. A thorough understanding of its customer base and demands is matched by peerless staff training and an exciting range of exclusive product promotions.
This year there was a close second, with Waitrose impressing the judges for its range revisions, dedication to staff training and professionalism.
Retail Buying Team of the Year
Described as one of the last supermarkets who recruit wine professionals rather than pure retailers, Waitrose was praised for the quality of its buyers, the breadth of its range, and its impressive results in the last 12 months.
In fact, despite an average price for wine of £6.90 – almost £2 more than the national average – Waitrose still saw its wine sales rise over 14% in 2012.
Innovations by the team, which contains four MWs (and two in training), included the addition of a new own-label range under £10, as well as new parcels from India, China, Montenegro and Romania and wines from more obscure grapes such as Negroamaro, Mencia and Godello.
As one judge commented, “I enjoy doing business with Waitrose.”
Special commendation: Tesco
Praised for their strong own-label range, wine fairs and forays into fine wine retailing, the judges felt Tesco’s buying team should be commended in this year’s awards, with wine buyer Laura Jewell MW held in particularly high regard.
Communicator of the Year, sponsored by Pays d’Oc
Winner: Matt Walls
Described as part of a new generation of wine writers, Matt Walls won this award for his extensive writing both online and in print. Aside from his blog, he also is the author of Drink Me! How to Choose, Taste and Enjoy Wine published by Quadrille in May 2012, and has just won the Drink Book Newcomer of the Year award at the Fortnum & Mason Awards.
The judges were highly impressed by his engaging writing style and dedication to the wine business – aside from his reporting and blogging, he is also a judge at the IWC and IWSC.
Young Achiever of the Year
Winner: Kim Wilson, sales director, Ehrmanns
With a role spanning both sourcing and the management of several key accounts, 31-year old Kim stands out as a linchpin in Ehrmanns’ business. What’s more, the sales figures and glowing testimonials show that she shoulders this responsibility with great success, dynamism and charm.
While one winery praised her as “by far and away the best point of contact we have across a total global network of 30 distributors,” colleagues hailed “an inspirational manager” and one major multiple retailer highlighted “her dedication to deliver the highest level of engaged service.” In a challenging trading environment, the drinks industry needs more individuals with the drive and business acumen of Kim Wilson.
Woman of the Year
Winner: Laura Jewell MW
Described as a “fantastic ambassador for the wine trade,” Laura Jewell MW was a compelling choice for 2013’s Woman of the Year. As product development manager at Tesco and chairman for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) – the first woman in this position in the trust’s 44-year history – Jewell is one of the wine world’s most influential figures. Indeed, late last year she was placed within the top 10 most powerful women in wine by the drinks business.
Jewell joined Tesco in September 2010 and is currently responsible for the wine range, overseeing the introduction of over 300 new lines in the last 12 months.
Jewell is also responsible for training all Tesco wine team members and wine advisors, and has taken on a role sourcing wines for Tesco stores in Central Europe and Asia.
Importantly, Jewell is also “really nice,” said one judge, while another agreed, saying, “She is a genuinely good person who works hard… she’s charming and hasn’t let success go to her head.”
Her commitment to education was also praised, both in her role at the WSET, at Tesco and as part of the Institute of Masters of Wine.
Man of the Year
Winner: Jay Wright
One of our youngest ever men of the year in the awards 10 year history, Virgin Wines managing director has only just turned 42. Despite his young age, Wright’s experience is immense, having set up two new wine operations – World Wines Direct and Warehouse Wines, before becoming MD of Virgin Wines and Avery’s of Bristol in June 2008.
In the last year specifically, Wright has overseen a rise in profitability and performance at Virgin Wines, as well as driving record levels of staff training at the mail order business, with 44 employees holding WSET certificates and a further 26 studying towards them.
He has also relaunched the WineBank loyalty scheme and unveiled the London Wine Awards – where the public is the judge – and the Virgin wines Virtual Winery, allowing 700 consumers to influence the production of a wine.
Described by the judges as spearheading change at the retailer and someone who’s happy to pack boxes with his staff as well as manage the tem of 145 employees, he was declared a worthy recipient of this year’s Man of the Year.
Lifetime Achievement Award – Michael Cox
Michael Cox is an extremely well known and admired figure in the UK trade. With a career in wine spanning over 40 years, he has worked at his family company, Matthew Clark, which was founded by his great, great, great grandfather, as well as Negociants UK, which he set up with great success in 1990, and following that, Wines of Chile UK, where he has been for exactly 10 years – having taken up the position of European director at the organisation in May 2003.
In late 2012, alongside his role at Wines of Chile, he became Master of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, and has overseen the celebrations at the ancient organisation in this, its 650th year. Prior to this high-profile position, he was a Trustee for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust for over five years.
Such has been his impact at building the sales and reputation of Chilean wines in Europe as part of his current job, many other wine producing countries have been known to say – “What we need is a Michael Cox”.
A member of the wine trade with immense dedication, always a warm smile, a firm handshake and helpful comments to make – as well as hips to shake – Michael has made a remarkable contribution to the trade during the course of an impressive career. Furthermore, importantly, during that time he has made many close friends in the drinks industry.
Below are just a few of the comments from people who have worked closely with Michael.
Claudio Cilveti, managing director, Wines of Chile
I say from bottom of my heart that Michael Cox is the lynchpin of Wines of Chile – his charm, candidness, and honesty is invaluable. Chile is so lucky to have his commitment, and someone that would devote their life in such a deep way. We at Wines of Chile do not have the words to thank him for his involvement in all that he has done, I´m very proud to talk about such a top class guy. Thank you so much for your energy, time and support over the last 10 years.
Ricardo Letelier, former managing director, Wines of Chile
There are so many things I could say about Michael, so many stories I could tell…like the day we met but anyway, we met about 10 years ago and we worked very closely for about five years.
During this time I learned to respect him professionally and I can say that his leadership has had a strong influence on how the Chilean wine industry looks today: more diverse, more premium, more exciting. But also over the time I made a friend, someone that is always there when you need him, always positive, even in the hardest times. Michael congratulations for a much-deserved recognition.
Eduardo Chadwick, president of Viña Errazuriz
During these past ten years Michael has most successfully run Wines of Chile UK with great enthusiasm and a unique leadership. His friendly character and unwavering energy, together with his deep understanding of our countries’ wines and culture have made him our best ambassador worldwide.
Michael is a great people’s man, loved, admired and trusted by everyone, it is a real pleasure and honour for our Chilean wine industry to have him leading the education and promotion of our wines and we are most thankful for the excellent image and world class positioning he has helped us build within the UK trade and consumers. I salute Michael on his great achievements and as a dearest personal friend.