Benson’s goal is to be the pre-eminent global wine marketing agency.
To get there, the agency was founded using a simple but powerful “people” strategy it calls the “Upward Spiral.” The agency hires truly outstanding people, who deliver stellar results, which attract the right clients, who allow the agency to hire more great professionals, and so on. The strategy is autocalytic, meaning that it is a self-reinforcing strategy, and it influences every aspect of the company.
How is the agency organized? In 2009, Benson reorganized to create interdisciplinary account teams rather than functional divisions (PR, Digital, etc.). This complemented its integrated approach to combining PR, Social Media, Trade Promotion and Branding services. Today, client teams typically include a diverse group of specialists, located in both Napa Valley and New York City, but each campaign has a single account manager – the structure promotes creativity and coordination. The result has been a decade of consecutive, year-on-year revenue growth averaging 15%-20%. (Click on the images below to read biographies of Benson’s professional team.)
President Benson founded the agency in 1997 and directs client strategy and creative development. He speaks frequently at industry conferences and university seminars on digital media, PR’s new role in marketing, and brand marketing.
Prior to starting Benson Marketing Group, he was brand manager and export sales manager at Franciscan Estates, and marketing director for the Napa Valley Vintners Association which brought him from Los Angeles to Napa. While in LA, he managed PR campaigns for LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton brands including Domaine Chandon, Moet & Chandon, Hennessy Cognac, and Tanqueray.
Benson holds an MBA from the University of Southern California and a BA from Occidental College, both in Los Angeles.
Sample of Industry Boards and Speaking Engagements:
* UC Davis Wine Executive Program: Current Marketing Seminar Lecturer
* WineFuture Rioja 2009: Guest Speaker on Social Media
* Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium: Past Chairman, Current Steering Committee Member
* Auction Napa Valley 2008: E-Auction Chairman 2008
* University of California at Davis, Board of Visitors & Fellows: Former Director
Account Supervisor Sean has more than a decade of marketing and Public Relations agency experience. He has designed and executed national media relations programs for wineries of all sizes, from small family-owned wineries producing less than a thousand cases to much larger brands. He has successfully launched a handful of California wine brands and provided strategic council on communications to consumers, media and trade. All of these efforts have produced news coverage in a very broad range of media, including men’s and women’s lifestyle magazines, business outlets, consumer wine publications, as well as on radio and TV.
Prior to Benson Marketing Group in 2003, Sean worked in the competitive world of high-technology PR in San Francisco during the “dot com” era. This experience honed his communications, marketing, and PR skills, and allowed him to establish relationships with journalists that he maintains today. He holds a BA in Communications and Public Relations from Carroll College in Helena, Montana.
Account Coordinator Chaparro joined the agency in 2011, bringing experience in design and production, primarily through websites, digital media, print and photography. Staying on top of today's new design trends, he balances the twin goals of creative design and intuitive user interface. He works in the Creative Services team helping clients develop and sharpen their visual and editorial presence.
Prior to joining Benson Marketing Group, Chaparro worked for companies such as Milagro Marketing, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and TinyPrints as well as juggling his own freelance projects. He graduated from San Jose State University in 2008 receiving a degree in Design Studies with an emphasis in Graphic Design and a minor in Photography.
Vice President Jones leads a variety of marketing efforts, developing strategy and executing tactics to create buzz for clients and their products. She has a keen interest in market place trends, what people are drinking and how they are spending their free time. Thinking like an editor, Jones has a knack for developing appealing storylines that resonate with writers and result in ink for the agency's clients.
Prior to joining the agency, Jones worked for Robert Mondavi Corporation's headquarters in Napa where she coordinated media campaigns for the company's wine brands. She graduated from Boston College.
Manager, France Jeanne joined the world of wine in 2005 after obtaining an MBA in Wine Marketing & Management from INSEEC-Bordeaux. After a brief time doing marketing for Vinexpo, she joined communications agency Clair de Lune in Lyon as an Account Executive. She worked for a number of appellations like Crozes-Hermitage, Vacqueyras and various appellations in Languedoc and managed Public Relations for clients such as Nomacorc, and the Loire Valley Wine Trade Fair.
Jeanne joined Benson Marketing Group in 2012 to lead the opening of our Paris office. With her experience in wine and spirits, Jeanne is able to give her clients a total global vision of the market as well as the most appropriate marketing strategies for success in France.
Telephone: +33 (0)1 56 95 19 31
Account Coordinator Laura joined the agency in 2012 with a background in online marketing and social media. Her experience includes launching brand pages on a variety of social platforms as well as the execution of a broad range of campaigns in different social outlets. She continually follows online trends and looks for new channels that could be interesting for clients.
Laura is a native of the Napa Valley with a long line of French viticulturists in her family. She graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Public Health and Gender & Women’s Studies and went on to work in the marketing departments for two San Francisco based retail companies: One Kings Lane and Williams-Sonoma Inc.
Account Executive Kelsey brings a creative and strategic eye to Benson’s Social Media campaigns. Working closely with the PR and Creative Services teams, she works to measure clients’ social media footprints, to develop and implement successful strategies, to analyze data, write copy, and report results.
Kelsey graduated from Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo with a degree in Marketing and minors in Wine & Viticulture and Spanish. She joined Benson in 2010 as a PR/marketing intern, and then was hired in 2011 to work on Benson’s social media service, Mission Control.
Account Executive Drawing on her experience working with Italian, Spanish and Portuguese brands, Schlendorf coordinates media outreach, story pitching projects and social media campaigns that garner attention for a diverse array of wines and vineyards. She also brings a tenacious and organized hand to wine events for press and trade.
Schlendorf joined Benson’s New York office in 2008 from Winebow, a successful wine importer and distributor located in New York. Working in the education department, Schlendorf developed training materials to help the sales team and buyers better understand and sell the company’s broad portfolio of brands. Schlendorf is a Certified Specialist of Wine, Certified Sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers, and graduated with a BA in history and economics from Colgate University.
Telephone: 212.822.3404, extension 202
Account Supervisor Brett's experience in social media, marketing communications and brand building brings strategy and insight to clients and helps them communicate in a quickly changing marketplace. He is responsible for the seamless delivery of creative, consistent messages across print and digital media.
Before joining Benson in 2009, Van Emst spent 12 years in advertising. He has an extensive project management background, working on both the corporate and agency side of advertising for companies such as Sanford Corporation in Chicago and Foote, Cone and Belding in New York City. Most recently, he was with the ad agency Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners where he was Senior Project Manager on Greyhound, Sun Microsystems, Priceline.com, and RadioShack. Brett graduated from Michigan State University.
Vice President A native New Yorker, former chef and restaurateur (with an award for his wine list from Wine Spectator) and compulsive traveler, Wassermann joined the agency to open the New York office in 2005. Ross manages PR as well as Trade Promotion and Brand Strategy projects for domestic and international clients and wine regions.
Prior to joining Benson, Wassermann worked with wine and gourmet food brands at a New York PR agency, where he managed the Loire Valley Wine Bureau from its creation, in 2002, through 2005, and has been featured widely in radio and print interviews. He also worked with clients such as D'Artagnan organic game and poultry, premium loose-leaf tea company, SerendipiTea, and the annual Chocolate Show in New York. He is fluent in French and has a working knowledge of Italian, German and Russian.
Telephone: 212.822.3404, extension 203
Account Coordinator Amy joined Benson in 2012, bringing her ability to create unique story angles to the New York team. Prior to joining Benson, she spent more than three years as a publicist in the music industry, honing her communication skills and style. When Amy found herself wanting to transition from music to wine, she learned about the industry by working at California Wine Merchants in Manhattan and earning her Intermediate Certificate from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust with distinction. She plans on continuing her education through the Trust. A native New Yorker, Amy graduated from Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Telephone: 212.822.3404 ext. 206