Last Tuesday (22 Feb) Huon Hooke published an article called “Wine Snobs can put a cork in it.” In the article he criticised initiatives like the Rosé Revolution noting “Fancy campaigns aren’t needed to prove our drops are among the best” and “There are too many fads and gimmicks: knickers to the Rosé Revolution.”

As one of the nation’s pre-eminent wine writers, I was disappointed that Huon failed to understand the bigger picture of what some of these initiatives were about. How integrated campaigns can really drive results and get consumers trialling new styles, brands and varietals. Don’t get me wrong, I am one of Huon’s biggest fans and love what he does for our industry, but on this occasion I don’t think the full objectives of the campaigns were fairly represented and unfairly assessed.

Now, this is not the forum to be talking about All for One, as I have my own thoughts on how that campaign was executed.  But as a wine marketer and someone who is in this industry to get more consumers involved and buying our brands it annoys me that someone of such influence paints a picture that is far from reality.  I’m the first to disclose that I’ve been heavily involved with some of the online social media campaigns like The Rosé Revolution and Open that Bottle Night . My business is about connecting brands with consumers via digital/ social mediums and because of this I think it’s important to tell the other side of the story.

Dan Sims eloquently covered the case from the Sommeliers point of view yesterday in “Missing the Point”  but here’s a defence from the marketer to add to the debate.

Some things to think about:


It’s not enough these days to issue a press release and rely on traditional channels to get our brands in front of consumers. There is an opportunity to really tell our brand stories and help to educate consumers in a two way dialogue – allowing them to ask questions and respond accordingly. This is where social media can really enhance a message.

Holding a tweet up for every wine event will dilute the messages we’re trying to convey and creating hashtags for every event without a plan behind it will result in little impact. But when there is a communications campaign being built, then social media should be another tool to consider to help reach a different audience.

The Rosé Revolution and Summer of Riesling were not all about a tweet up or “gimmicky marketing campaign.”  Both campaigns included traditional promotional devices (press releases/ samples) with events that got people thinking about the styles of wine they were drinking and help to educate consumers about brands that they could potentially trial. For Rosé Revolution to trend #1 in Australia whilst the event was being held it surely is hard to argue that there was no consumer impact.

Those wineries who did benefit were the ones who did not just send a sample bottle in to a tweet up, but got behind the initiatives across multiple mediums (eNewsletters/ in store/ sales teams etc) and really told the story across different touch points.


As people who are passionate about our industry we often fail to remember that consumers are not like we are and are not highly involved in the category when making a wine purchase. They don’t always scour the newspaper for the latest scores or reviews and in many instances they refer to their friends for the source of recommendations. So given that Australian online consumers are spending more and more time on social networks ( 20% of the total time Australian consumers spend online, according to Comscore  then surely using different mediums is just a way of getting consumers connected and talking about your brand is a useful plan. Did you know that  Facebook has a 75.5% reach, with the typical member dedicating 305 minutes to its pages a month!

You only need to look at some of the comments on facebook pages of these campaigns to see how many new brands and styles were discovered by consumers throughout the campaign and these comments would have flowed through to their friends pages for all to see. 


The Rosé Revolution and Summer of Riesling were great examples of collaboration between stakeholders in the industry to get consumers trialling different styles or varietals – Sommeliers were involved, the trade got behind tastings, cellar doors, restaurants and bars got involved and promoted to their consumers and there were additional reviews of dry Rosé styles in mainstream media. We often hear of complaints domestically about growth of imports, well these campaigns were designed to collectively present alternative drinking choices. Whilst De Bortoli championed the Rosé Revolution initiative, the key was that anyone could get involved – there were 90 different wineries engaged, participating in the kick off at 24 different venues around the world. This has got dry, well structured Rosé back on the agenda and allowed it to be back in the consumers consciousness when buying wine this summer. This could never have been achieved if it were the campaign of one wine brand without substantial investment. See the press release from just after the Rosé Revolution launch if you want to read more information.

It’s also time to think about working closer together and bridging the gap between different wine communicators. Open that Bottle night that happened last Saturday night is the perfect example. This is a concept that was started over 10 years ago by two Wall Street Wine Journalists. They were often asked when to open wines that their readers had in their cellar so they started open that bottle night. My friend Liz O’Connell and I helped to use social media this year to get people involved and the concept on twitter alone generated nearly 2 million impressions involving over 500 different people. Now we did this for a bit of fun this year, but imagine how much more powerful this would have been in Australia if traditional wine columns would have had foresight to also let their readers know about it and not just have to rely on social media to spread the word? A different partnership perhaps is needed where we support each other? If Jancis Robinson  MW can get behind initiatives like Rose Revolution and help get involved, there surely there’s a greater role for our own wine media to partner.


I stress once again that these campaigns have to be planned and well executed for them to be effective. Integration with traditional marketing devices is important and some may underestimate the time involved behind the scenes to plan and execute.  You may not always be seeing the full campaign because you’re not exposed to the platforms and mediums that are being used – but then again, perhaps you’re not the target market in mind to talk to?

So, next time you hear of a new marketing concept that you would have written off as gimicky, explore it some more before you judge. You may not always want to participate, but often there’s a bigger picture waiting to be unveiled.

Please note: want to stipulate once again that this is no way an attack on Huon Hooke, of whom have the most respect for as one of our finest Wine writers.