Will 2014 be the year of the video for Washington wine? It certainly seems so.
The state’s wine commission recently wrapped up an RFP to engage a photographer and videographer who will provide the commission with high-quality imagery and video content to help market the state’s wine industry. The goal, according to the formal request for proposals issued in early January, is simple:
“… develop a collection of photographs and video content that effectively tells the story of Washington State Wine. A high percentage of people in the target audience have never visited Washington State wine country in person, and one of our biggest challenges is a pervasive misperception of what Washington wine county [sic] looks like. A high quality collection of images and videos that capture the year-round story, style, and personality of the industry … will allow the WSWC to tell the story of our industry far more effectively.
“The scope of material should include all four seasons and effectively capture the year-round cycle of winemaking and grape growing.”
The commission is set to award the contract, worth $100,000, in early February and work would begin in March. No word on how many proposals were submitted or who won the bake-off, but I have to assume those announcements are forthcoming from the public agency.
Video content isn’t new to the marketing toolbox for wine regions or for individual wineries.
For wine regions, the leader in the clubhouse is Paso Robles with more than 20 fun videos featuring PasoWineMan. The guy in the white linen suit (actor Casey Biggs) brings Paso’s personality to life while entertaining and educating at the same time. The cream of Paso’s video crop introduces viewers to various wine varietals produced by Paso winemakers and has received nearly 130,000 views on YouTube.
The Idaho Wine Commission recently released a terrific, tongue-in-cheek video using Idaho’s famous potatoes to promote the state’s growing wine industry. Posted on YouTube in mid-January, the video already has nearly 9,000 views.
When it comes to individual wineries, Jordan Winery in Sonoma County has set a high bar for years. Led by communications director Lisa Mattson, Jordan’s video team regularly cranks out clever, high-quality videos that use original content or repurpose existing video from other sources.
Prior to Super Bowl, Jordan dropped an entertaining NFL send-up to subtly market Jordan as a beverage of choice for the big game. (Seahawk fans will love the shot of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at the :29 second mark. Talk about winey… I mean, whiny.) When Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ was all the radio rage last summer, Jordan came out with its own version, ‘Blurred Vines,’ starring company CEO John Jordan.
Several Washington wineries have dabbled in video – the Big Dipper Chronicles from Northstar come to mind, and L’Ecole No. 41 and Alexandria Nicole have notable YouTube channels. But my favorite WaWine videos come from Gramercy Cellars. Owner/ winemaker Greg Harrington puts his achingly dry wit on display he uses Hitler as a pitchman for Gramercy’s booth at Taste Washington. Harrington followed that up with a crisply edited video to announce Gramercy’s selection by Food & Wine as the Best New Winery in 2010.
Interesting aside about Harrington’s Hitler video: After wine critic Janis Robinson mentioned in a tweet, hundreds of people started clicking on the video and Gramercy picked up 500 new subscribers to its mailing list.
The most effective videos share some commonality. The content is fun, engaging, timely and most importantly, imminently shareable via social channels. Many of them focus squarely on consumers, but it seems unlikely that the wine commission’s upcoming video efforts will follow suit.
The commission’s strategic marketing plan for Washington’s wine industry targets the wine trade and the wine media, and the request for proposal clearly prioritized the targets for this work as trade, media and consumers, in that order.
It remains to be seen whether a harried, over-worked somm or a cranky underpaid editor will recommend more Washington wine after watching YouTube videos about Walla Walla or the Yakima Valley. Regardless of where this leads, it’s good to see the wine commission joining the video party and it will be fun to see the work that the selected vendors turn out.
Do you have some favorite videos from wineries? If so, please share – I’d love to see them.