Top drinks marketing campaigns and news this month

Brewdog entices Labour leader with point-scoring PR stunt

In mutual back-scratching, Labour leader Keir Starmer used a visit to a Brewdog bar to pose with a beer poking fun at the Prime Minister’s well-travelled political adviser, Dominic Cummings.

Called Barnard Castle Eye Test, the limited edition IPA was named via a public vote, shortly after news broke that Cummings had broken his government’s own lockdown rules. A joint-investigation by the Guardian and Mirror revealed Cummings broke the UK’s lockdown rules in April, travelling 260 miles with his wife and child to his parent’s home in Durham. His wife had already developed coronavirus symptoms before they set off, and Cummings started displaying symptoms the next day.

Starmer visited a Brewdog bar in Tower Hill, east London, to pose with a can of Barnard Castle Eye Test and pour himself a pint for the cameras.


Bacardi ‘not proud’ of gendered marketing on lighter vodka

In “seemed like a good idea at the time”, drinks giant Bacardi said it is “not proud” of the gendered language used to promote a lower ABV and gluten-free low-calorie spirit brand last month.

The product, called Plume & Petal, is bottled at 20% ABV and advertised as facilitating the creation of low calorie cocktails.

A pitch from a PR agency described it as Bacardi’s first spirit designed “by women, for today’s modern woman, intended to be enjoyed with other women.”

The three vodka-based drinks in the range, Peach Wave, Cucumber Spritz, and Lemon Drift promise to have 30% fewer calories than a glass of wine when served with a sugar-free mixer such as soda.

The release faced backlash on social media. One Twitter user said the branding reminded them of “one of those tasks which might have been set by Lord Sugar for teams in the Apprentice”, while others took exception to the idea that a vodka based drink designed for women should only have half the ABV of the real thing.

Responding to the criticism, a Bacardi spokesperson said: “Shelley Menze, our senior beverage scientist, set out to redefine the drink experience for her and her friends when hosting them at home. What started out as a personal, passion project turned into a unique brand that addresses a broader demand for low-calorie, low-alcohol alternatives.

“That being said, we are aware of the conversations on social media around the use of gendered language in a pitch. We’re not proud of that, but we are proud of the female creators behind this product – unfortunately, a rarity in this industry – and we are proud of this great-tasting drink.”

Cameron Diaz ruffles wine world’s feathers with ‘clean’ wine

Hollywood actress Cameron Diaz is the latest celebrity to enter the wine game, launching a ‘clean’ wine brand in collaboration with entrepreneur Katherine Power, which has proved rather controversial.

Called Avaline, the range comprises of two organic wines – a Spanish white and a French rosé, which went on sale across the US last month.

Avaline’s labels communicate the wine’s supposed virtuous characteristics. They are listed as organic, vegan-friendly, non-GMO and gluten-free with no added sugars, colours or artificial concentrates.

Diaz and Power have been on the campaign trail with their wine over the past month, including some, if we’re honest, moderately impressive wine drinking gymnastics on Instagram.

But the pair’s claim that their wines are “cleaner” than the vast majority of what’s on the market right now has got the industry riled. Many were quick to point out that producers large and small do already make vegan, non-GMO, organic wines without communicating their processes loudly and proudly on the labels. It’s also reignited a debate over transparency in the wine industry. Reactionary pieces have appeared in The Buyer, San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian (in which it is compared to Gwyneth Paltrow’s notorious wellness website Goop), Forbes….the list goes on.

Reims bribes tourists with free Champagne

Architecture of Reims, a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France.

In “shut up and take my money”, The Reims Tourism Office is giving away 3,000 bottles of Champagne to holidaymakers who stay for more than two nights in the region.

The initiative was launched on 15 July, but there are a few rules. Tourists must spend at least two consecutive nights in the city of Reims, or the surrounding area, and stay in a hotel or guesthouse. Unfortunately, Airbnb users do not qualify.

As they say, you gotta spend money to, er, drink Champagne. During their trip, visitors must eat in a local restaurant and order at least one dish and drink. Fast food outlets are excluded from the list, so avoid Maccy’s. Finally, in order to qualify, tourists must provide proof that they have paid for one leisure activity, such as renting a kayak, a winery visit, bike hire, or cinema ticket.

Carnivor teams up with Great British Chefs

US wine group E&J Gallo has partnered with culinary website Great British Chefs to promote its Californian wine label, Carnivor, with a series of meat-based recipes designed to pair with the wines in the range.

Gallo has revived its campaign, which sees chefs create dishes for consumers to try at home, in the hope they will buy Carnivor wines to accompany their meal. The campaign launched earlier this month, and will run to the end of the year

Great British Chef finalist Michael Bremner, the owner of Brighton’s 64 Degrees, has developed two dishes to pair with Carnivor Zinfandel. The first recipe, a barbecued Rib-Eye steak, is already live.

The Great British Chefs partnership will run until the end of the year, when Carnivor will work alongside another high profile chef to create autumn and winter inspired meat recipes to pair with their wines.


Taylor’s launches digital white Port cocktail tutorial

Port producer Taylor’s launched a digital campaign on Instagram and Facebook for July and August, showing off the white Port and tonic serve in a “simple, light and refreshing way”.

A video walks consumers through serving up an on-trend white Port mixer the right way, over ice with a twist of lemon and a sprig of mint.

Andrew Hawes, managing director at Mentzendorff, the UK importer for Taylor’s, said: “Taylor’s pioneered the premium white Port category, having a strong presence for many years in the UK market.”

He added that it was fantastic to see an uplift in interest and consumption of white Port in the UK, which he believes was “helped by the G&T boom, as white Port and tonic offers a refreshing and lower alcohol alternative”.

He added: “We have always worked hard on tastings and recommended mixes, and now we have more options with a great variety of different tonic waters at our disposal.

“This is the perfect time to bring the Taylor’s Chip Dry and Tonic serve to life for consumers in the United Kingdom.”

According to Taylor’s, the ad is intended to inspire a passion for white Port in the UK by conveying a cocktail that can be ready in a matter of minutes with a handful of ingredients.

Argentina joins New World wine’s China push

Argentina has joined New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Canada and the California in forming a New World wine alliance to boost its performance in the Chinese market.

Industry body Wines of Argentina has signed an agreement with Shanghai’s Grapea & Co to be part of the alliance aimed at furthering the perception of New World wine in China. The project, which began in June and will run until October, will take the form of a marketing and educational campaign supported by Grapea & Co’s Yang Lu, China’s first Master Sommelier.

It will focus on online content, transmitted through social media and blogging platforms, as well as wine and sommelier competitions.

The free content will be available on the New World Wine WeChat account and will consist of 18 virtual masterclasses on New World wine regions and 42 videos on topics such as the wine history, viticulture, winemaking, news, cultural traditions and food and wine matching. These will also be made available on other platforms including Tik Tok, Dianping, and T-Mall.

In the first 15 days after the launch, the content platforms recorded 68,000 visits and more than 8,000 views of video content.
Maximiliano Hernández Toso, president of Wines of Argentina, said: “I believe that this is a great opportunity for our flagship product to unveil its full potential.”


Industry body highlights safety measures in Scottish on-trade

The Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership has launched a new social media campaign to encourage consumers to return to pubs and bars in Scotland as lockdown eases in the UK.

The Scottish Alcohol Industry Partnership’s members include spirits producers Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi, and trade groups such as the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, the Scotch Whisky Association, the Scottish Beer and Pub Association (SBPA) and the Scottish Licensed Trade Association.

The campaign seeks to reassure punters by pointing to the safety measures that Scotland’s bars, pubs and restaurants have put in, while also reminding them to cooperate with physical distancing measures and drink responsibly to avoid lowered inhibitions and the heightened risk of things becoming difficult.

The campaign ran throughout July, and included links to guidance from the Scottish government. People in Scotland need to
maintain physical distancing of two metres.

Paul Togneri, senior adviser at the SBPA, said: “It is important that consumers in Scotland know the industry is taking the threat of Covid-19 seriously and this campaign is also aimed at highlighting that.

“The hospitality industry has been devastated by the pandemic and it will be a long road to recovery; the support of consumers and their confidence in the trade will be key.”

Sir Brynn Terfel and Rob Brydon back Welsh Wine Week

You may have heard of English Wine Week, but there’s more to the UK’s viticultural scene. Welsh opera star Sir Bryn Terfel and comedian Rob Brydon (pictured) recorded a promotional video in support of Welsh Wine Week.

Welsh Wine Week was organised by the Welsh Drinks Cluster, which is an initiative funded by the local government.

The virtual event, which ran from 27 July to 2 August, featured online events and competitions run by more than 30 vineyards in the country. The aim of the event is to encourage greater knowledge and understanding of the industry, and ultimately increase sales in the UK.

The initiative attracted vocal support from the likes of renowned bass-baritone Sir Bryn Terfel, who, in a video, revealed he had a personal connection to one winery in Wales, having been at school with the owners of Pant Du Vineyard, Richard and Iola Huws.

“I have been fortunate enough to travel the world and while doing so I have had amazing opportunities to taste some of the finest wines available and Welsh wines are beginning to creep up there,” Terfel said in a statement.

“So, if you have not tried some, please do so during Welsh Wine Week.”

He also filmed another video alongside Gavin & Stacey and The Trip star Rob Brydon.

“Welsh Wine Week is wonderful news, I hope it all goes well for everybody. I send everyone my very best,” Brydon said of the venture.


DJ BBQ and Ardbeg show us how to cook on a whisky cask

Islay’s Ardbeg whisky distillery has joined forces with presenter and barbecue enthusiast Christian Stevenson (aka DJ BBQ) on an entertaining series of virtual cooking classes.

From Bacardi gin brand Bombay Sapphire to Kentish Town bar Ladies and Gentlemen, Instagram is awash with notable faces in the food and drinks industry teaching is how to step up our game in the kitchen during lockdown.

Ardbeg added its own contribution, partnering with YouTube star Stevenson, who hosts festivals and events under his alias, DJ BBQ.

Called The Smoke Sessions, DJ BBQ guides people through the basics of creating smoky and flavourful barbecue dishes and whisky cocktails to serve with them on Ardbeg’s Instagram page. The drinks were be made with Ardbeg Ten, An Oa and Wee Beastie.

Stevenson will teach whisky fans how to cook “low and slow”, how to cook the perfect steak, and how to cook salmon on a whisky cask.

People were able order a pre-made Maple and Bacon Old Fashioned for delivery in the United Kingdom via Mothership on the Drinks At Home platform prior to cooking classes being live-streamed on Ardbeg’s Instagram page.

“My smoky barbecue recipes share so many characteristics with the flavours of Ardbeg whisky and they complement each other perfectly,” Stevenson said of the initiative.


Austrian wine board goes on worldwide sampling push

View to the River Danube and “Weissenkirchen an der Donau” – Austria

Austria’s wine marketing board sent hundreds of wines to experts in 12 countries – including Germany, the UK, the US, Canada and Russia – and assembled more than 1,000 participants in front of their computer screens to help communicate their quality and style to consumers worldwide during lockdown.

One of the events organised by the board brought together more than 60 people in an online roundtable with leading lights in Quebec’s wine scene, with key panellists including Véronique Rivest, Alain Bélanger, Véronique Dalle, Vincent Laniel and Nikolas Da Fonseca.

Austrian Wine also released several podcasts showcasing a roundtable with leading sommeliers in Russia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States, with some deep dives into the respective wine scenes in Oslo, Norway, and Colorado, US.

Although travel restrictions are now easing, the Austrian trade body looks set to continue its roster of online events and engage with more members of the international wine community.

This month, Austrian Wine will host a virtual event with restaurateurs in Amsterdam. The event shows Austrian winemakers the current market conditions and opportunities in the Netherlands. And on 24 August, Austrian Wine will take its annual sommelier competition to New York City, where somms will compete in online exams. The winner will receive a trip to trade show VieVinum 2021.

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