The waters of the wine blogosphere roiled a bit last week when the new advertising campaign from Ste. Michelle Wine Estates was featured in The New York Times. The campaign focuses on women and invites consumers to share how they most enjoy the wine through an ad platform called “My Chateau.”
The campaign sparked some criticism / ridicule for the artwork and its focus on a particular demographic. That’s easy to do, particularly with any new campaign. But the critics are off the mark.
The significance isn’t about content or a particular target demographic. It’s that the largest winery in Washington State, a public company that shipped 7.32 million cases and generated $516 million in revenue in 2011, has committed a significant chunk of advertising dollars to consumer engagement through social media.
“The best way we felt that we could get people to discover the brand and engage with the brand is for consumers to talk about how it fits in their lives,” company VP of marketing Martin Johnson told The Times. “It’s an engage-with rather than a talk-at approach.”
SWME’s advertising traditionally has stuck to the straight and narrow – show gorgeous photography, tout the review numbers and deliver sensory appeal to the broad spectrum of wine consumers reading the wine mags.
It’s an engage-with rather than a talk-at approach
This campaign, reports The Times, is pitched “primarily at women 25 to 38, including but not exclusively mothers.” Ads in online media outlets such as Parents, Better Homes & Gardens, and Every Day with Rachel Ray are designed to drive consumers to Facebook, where they can engage directly with SWME and other fans. St. Michelle also is incenting the campaign with a sweepstakes called the “Ultimate Girls Night In.”
This isn’t Ste. Michelle’s first foray into alternative marketing. Earlier this year, the company ran a PR promotion called “Reason for Riesling” that was focused on wine bloggers rather than traditional media. But that one felt more like an experiment rather than a full-blown campaign.
The “My Chateau” is anything but an experiment by WaWine’s largest company. It’s a jump-fully-clothed-into-the-deep-end-of-the-pool statement. It also has the look and feel of an integrated campaign, so look for additional activities in PR, marketing, advertising and yes, social media. It will be fun to see where it leads in the coming months.