Posts

Benson Named a Top Marketing Agency

Beverage Trade Network’s blog post this month titled “Top PR Companies for Alcohol Beverage Brands,” included Benson along with our peers.

While multi-year client engagements are perhaps the best indicator of client satisfaction – we are proud that our average is 4+ years — it’s also affirming to receive this third party endorsement.

More importantly, their call for wine and spirits brand to increase marketing spending is timely.

The post stated: “The wine and drinks industry has an overabundance of brands in the market and there is an acute need for brands to differentiate themselves with PR and marketing.” It went on to say, “In times of COVID when traveling has become tight, budgets even tighter, and flashy events cannot be held, digital marketing is a great way for your brand to reach a target market. With most human eyes glued to screens small and large, it has become more important than ever to create an active digital marketing strategy. We take a closer look and bring you the most important PR companies in America for your beverage brands.”

The post also said about Benson, “stellar work that has attracted the right clients…”  We agree! Our goal has never been about being the largest, but about being the best.

Balletto Vineyards

Preparing for H2: 4 Marketing Projects to Tackle Now

What can strategic marketers do in the next few months to plan for a successful second half of 2021?

In this post we make some assumptions based on economic data and recommend specific actions for preparing for a successful H2.

Let’s Start with Assumptions

It’s March 16, 2021. As we write this post, we can make some relatively safe assumptions drawing on current economic data and consumer behavior:

  • Massive Economic Stimulus: Stuck at home, America’s retail sales jumped 7.4% in January versus January 2020, even before the latest stimulus checks. America has $1.6 trillion in excess savings during the past year, according to The Economist¹. And unemployment is forecast to drop below 5% by year end. With relatively low inflation, low interest rates, high asset values and pent-up demand, there’ll be a lot of cash sloshing around the U.S. later this year. Who doesn’t want to go on vacation and visit a favorite restaurant?
  • Consumers Reward Convenience: We all know delivery and DTC is the new norm. Winery DTC shipments jumped 27% in 2020². Wine.com’s “StewardShip” program is booming. And investor money is following the trend: Uber is absorbing Drizly and Vivino got a large cash infusion Not to be left out, many states are considering beer and spirits DTC legislation.
  • Competition from Everywhere: Competition for consumer attention is coming from more places, with more brands, with more backing. Robust retailer DTC sales, new delivery channels, third party providers, new e-platforms, suppliers entering new categories, the e-premise, etc.

Approaching Uncertainty

Will COVID vaccinations go faster or slower? Will new COVID variants affect the return to “normal”? Will we enter a period like the “roaring 20s”?

While we can’t predict the future with much precision, it appears likely that consumers will have the willingness and means to spend more this fall.

Maybe more importantly, does anyone believe we will return to the “before times”? Can wineries rely on winery visits to drive all club memberships, or rely on 90-point scores and a $100 Facebook monthly budget to define their marketing mix?

Of course, we need to take our brands to consumers, not wait for them to find us.

We assembled a few practical actions to take now. The list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, or to represent a long-term strategy. It’s meant to be a useful checklist for a solid but agile H2 plan.

  1. Refine Brand Identity: Lean into your values – there’s a market for that. Brand marketing is not about a SKU, a price, and a rating. Plan a 30-day brand identity blitz to document what’s important to your company. Great marketing is about narrowing your message, not comprehensiveness.
  2. Invest in 3-tier Digital: Advertising on Facebook, Google, and other platforms isn’t just for DTC sales. Build brand awareness and support your retailer partners with legal, geo-targeted Facebook/Instagram advertising (mention no less than 3 retailers in a social post to avoid tied-house issues). It’s not expensive –start testing what works at a minimal spend.
  3. Seek out Partnerships: Work with brands or well-vetted influencers in other product/service/interest categories that attract your target demographic: home entertaining, home decor, gardening, skiing, tennis. Test interests that correlate postively with your brand identity, and create bridges to new prospects.
  4. Think 360-degrees: Include your outside agencies and subcontractors in brainstorming so you can integrate and leverage their marketing ideas. Outcome? Better results for the same money.
Balletto Vineyards

Balletto Vineyards

Let’s Calendar That

April – May

  • Refine Your Brand Identity: Hold 2-3 brainstorming meetings with your team to do a quick-and-dirty SWOT analysis, identify key brand benefits and your unique selling proposition. A few standard exercises will better direct marketing and sales.
  • Research Partnerships: Identify and approach a few other brands or influencers for potential holiday partnerships, or for spring and summer 2022.
  • Set Your H2 PR Plan: Define what story angles are pitched to press, when, and how. Consider virtual tastings and events.
  • Engage your Partners: Include any agencies or subcontractors in your brainstorming.
  • Digital Advertising: Identify key holiday promotions and start developing landing pages and creative.
  • Influencer Marketing: Identify a diverse group of influencers and match them with key brand messages; schedule giveaways and IG takeovers through the end of the year.

June – July

  • Test Facebook Advertising: Setup a rapid-fire test of different creative, formats, audiences, etc. Owners and senior managers: dig into the numbers. You don’t have to be a social media expert to learn what’s working and not.
  • Retail Sales: Test some geo-targeted, digital ads to drive impressions and brand awareness in your key retail markets as a precursor to a larger Q4 spend.
  • Campaign Themes: Finalize one promotional theme per month for SOND, if you haven’t already. For example, build a campaign of social posts, ads and PR to support a new wine introduction in September.
  • Instagram: Schedule IG Lives with key team members (winemakers, viticulturalists) to share harvest season updates.

August

  • Finalize SOND Action Plans: Finalize metrics and goals, campaign responsibilities and accountability. Create an internal campaign theme to rally the whole team behind the effort.
  • Finalize Marketing Creative: Finalize digital, social media and PR creative assets such as copy, images, video, infographics, etc.
  • Finalize Digital Ad Spend: Plan to spend more during in November through December.
  • Influencer Marketing: Schedule holiday giveaways with key influencers and schedule practice sessions.
  • Instagram: Stay flexible with IG Live as harvest schedules shift.

Let's Calendar That

September – December

  • Execute starting in September. Don’t wait.
  • Monitor and Adjust: Be flexible. Don’t be afraid to adjust digital ads, PR story pitches and other actions if the actuals don’t match up well with goals.
  • Watch Ad Costs: Digital platforms will likely get pricey as we get into late October and early November as larger advertisers increase auction costs. Consider shifting ad objectives to not overpay.
  • UGC Content: Watch for key pieces of user generated content and share via IG Stories to connect to your audience.
  • PR Blitz: Anticipate an uptick in articles recommending what to buy for holidays and gifting, Ensure you are on the radar of press and can provide them with links to your e-commerce cart  for readers/consumers to use. Review online content and e-store functionality to remove any barriers or old information.

Sources and Resources:
1. The Economist, March 13-19, 2021, Leaders section.
2. SOVOS ShipCompliant/Wines Vines Analytics 2021 Direct Shipping Report.

Barton & Guestier

Benson Adds Barton & Guestier, Veuve du Vernay to Roster

Benson is proud to add two new brands to its client roster to begin the new year: Barton & Guestier, and Veuve du Vernay. The campaign includes consumer and trade press coverage and digital marketing support services.

Barton & Guestier: Reviewed by Thomas Jefferson!

Founded in Bordeaux in 1725 by the Irishman Thomas Barton, Barton & Guestier is the oldest wine house in Bordeaux. The brand  has developed a premium brand strategy based on AOC and varietal wines from Bordeaux, Loire, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Rhône Valley, Languedoc, Provence and Gascony.

With almost three centuries of experience, B&G combines the authenticity of the appellations with the consistency of quality and the typicity of each vintage.

This month, Barton & Guestier releases the newest vintage of their Côtes de Provence rosé wine, Tourmaline, to the U.S. market. Made by Véronique Florentin, newly appointed head of winemaking of Provençal wines for Barton & Guestier, the 2020 Tourmaline is a true-to-type Provence wine showcasing the authenticity of the appellation and its world-renowned style.

Fun fact: Barton & Guestier was the first wine brand imported to the U.S. and was recommended by President Jefferson.

Veuve du Vernay

Veuve du Vernay

Veuve du Vernay: Vive la Vie!

Veuve du Vernay is the leading French sparkling wine brand in the U.S., channeling classic Parisian lifestyle and joie de vivre.

Veuve du Vernay captures both the traditional and the modern. Whether serving the elegant Brut or the flirty Ice Rosé, these wines elevate all occasions.

Fun fact: Veuve du Vernay was founded by Robert Charmat, son of the scientist who patented the Charmat Method of producing sparkling wines. Robert named his wines for a widow in Vernay who helped his father during his early winemaking days. (Veuve in French means widow.)

Today, Veuve du Vernay is produced by Patriarche and made by winemaker Maryline Gianna. Founded in 1780 in Beaune, the heart of Burgundy, Patriarche is a leading wine producer in France with two areas of focus: Burgundy appellation wines and fine sparkling wines.

NEW RELEASE: Bread & Butter Wines Introduces Sauvignon Blanc

Novato, CA — June 29, 2020 – Bread & Butter Wines, one of the fastest growing brands in the super premium wine segment in the US, announces the addition of Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc to its lineup of much loved, award-winning wines. Featuring the striking black and white label, the new Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc delivers the same quality and approachable wine style as the rest of the Bread & Butter portfolio. This Sauvignon Blanc joins Bread & Butter Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Rosé.

Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc at a Glance

This refreshing and lively Sauvignon Blanc showcases aromatics of citrus with hints of peach and honeysuckle. The bright profile enters your palate with crisp flavors of lime, lemongrass and melon. Perfect for summer, Bread & Butter Sauvignon Blanc is topped with an easy to open screwcap closure.
• Appellation: North Coast AVA
• Debut Vintage: 2019
• ABV: 13%
• SRP: $14.99
• Varietal: Sauvignon Blanc

Since their introduction, Bread & Butter wines have developed a loyal consumer following. Today, Bread & Butter is the 4th fastest growing brand in the top 100 at +45% in dollar volume in the latest 26 weeks. In the $12-14.99 category, Bread & Butter Pinot Noir ranks #1 and continues to grow at +45%. Also in the $12-$14.99 category, Bread & Butter Chardonnay ranks #4 and growing at +25%, and Cabernet Sauvignon ranks #8 in the category and growing at +74%. Source: Nielsen, TTL US Food, Drug, Liquor, Latest 26 weeks, W/E 5.16.20.

Bread & Butter wines can be found at wine retailers across the country or purchased online from the company’s newly revamped website. www.breadandbutterwines.com

About Bread & Butter Wines

Bread & Butter Wines are trusted California wines crafted to be easy-going and approachable, able to complement everyday occasions all year long, pairing well with the moments you love. Bread & Butter Wines includes a Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Rosé. Bread & Butter wines are priced at $12- $15.99 and are available wine retailers across the country and online at www.breadandbutterwines.com.

Bread & Butter Wines are part of the WX Brands portfolio of nationally-available wine brands which also includes the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards portfolio (Double Lariat, Reata, Silver Spur, Whiplash, and Light Horse), Baileyana portfolio (Baileyana, True Myth, Tangent, and Zocker), Chronic Cellars, Jelly Jar, Our Daily Wines, and Reckless Love Wines. Established in 1999, WX Brands is currently a top 15 wine company (Source: Wine Business, Feb 2020). www.wxbrands.com

Baileyana Portfolio Joins Benson

Benson’s PR engagement with WX Brands, a top 20 U.S. wine company, has expanded to include the 100,000+ case portfolio of wines from the Niven family, widely considered as the pioneers of the Edna Valley AVA. In January, WX Brands announced the purchase of the portfolio, including True Myth, Tangent, Baileyana, and Zocker.

These additional wineries join Benson’s national PR campaign for current client, WX Brands: Bread & Butter Wines, the Jamieson Ranch Vineyards portfolio (Double Lariat, Reata, Silver Spur, Whiplash and Light Horse), Chronic Cellars, Our Daily Wines, Jelly Jar, and Reckless Love Wines.

From the Acquisition Press Release

“The Niven family has farmed in Edna Valley for more than 40 years. Their understanding and love of the region is reflected in the wines they produce,” said WX Brands President and CEO Peter Byck. “With their quality, regional focus, and price segments, this collection of consumer and trade favorites fits perfectly into our existing portfolio of nationally distributed wines. WX Brands is proud to carry on the Niven legacy.”

The Niven family developed a diverse portfolio of wine that focused on exploring the endless potential of Edna Valley and the Central Coast and in the process established the region as a credible and highly-sought-after source for cool-climate grape varieties.

  • Baileyana was founded more than 30 years ago to reflect the best of cool climate varietals. Refined, rich, and balanced, Baileyana wines exhibit the best of Edna Valley’s unique climates. (Price range: $25-50)
  • True Myth takes advantage of the rich and fertile soils of California’s Central Coast. The wines embrace the best of San Luis Obispo County – Chardonnay from the cool ocean influenced Edna Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon from the rugged terrain of Paso Robles. (Price range: $18-55)
  • Tangent wines explore cool climate, alternative white wines from Edna Valley, the coolest AVA in California. The focus is on fresh, easy-drinking white wines that are extremely food friendly. (Price range: $17-32)
  • Zocker means ‘gambler’ in German. The Niven family took a gamble that Edna Valley could produce Grüner Veltliner and the result is a food-friendly wine worthy of a gamble. (Price: $20)

Biltmore Wines Taps Benson

Biltmore, the estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C. was the family home of George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s.  Originally 125,000 acres, the property’s estate sits on 8,000 acres and was a well-known gathering place for artists and scientists entertained in grand style.

George Vanderbilt introduced the pleasures of wine to Biltmore through his legendary hospitality, but it was his grandson, William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, who had the vision and determination to take Biltmore’s agricultural tradition and re-imagine it as vineyards and a winery. A winery seemed like a natural extension of Biltmore’s agricultural legacy as well as a viable means of diversifying Biltmore’s revenue-generating possibilities. Viticultural experiments began in the 1970s and, in 1983, Biltmore Estate Wine Company was launched.

Today, Biltmore produces a custom portfolio of wines. Its grapes are sourced from estate vineyards, and select grape growers in North Carolina and California. Crafted by winemaker Sharon Fenchak (pictured), Biltmore wines are sold throughout the property’s restaurants and tasting bars, in many states at retail and direct to consumer.

Benson is working with Biltmore Wines on a messaging and communications campaign to highlight the brand’s unique history and range of offerings.

Marie Christina Batich

Batich Joins Benson NYC

Building out Benson’s ability to connect clients to New York press, the agency has added Marie Christina Batich to its team. Prior to Benson, Marie Christina worked for importers such as Kobrand and Remy Cointreau, and agencies including Sopexa and Bullfrog & Baum. Her brand experience includes top tier Champagne Houses, Ketel One Vodka (and the launch of Ketel One Botanical), Gérard Bertrand Winery, as well as a bevy of French & Italian wine trade councils including Cognac, Loire Valley, Burgundy and Brachetto d’Acqui.

Freemark Abbey and Benson Team Up

Freemark Abbey Winery and Benson are teaming up on a marketing communications campaign to drive awareness, visitors center traffic and sales for this iconic Napa Valley winery. The winery is lauded for crafting classically structured Cabernet Sauvignon from pedigreed vineyard sites, and is widely known for its  Bosché and Sycamore single-vineyard Cabernets from Rutherford.

Freemark Abbey’s estate underwent a multi-million-dollar renovation that was completed in 2016. The redesign captures the winery’s historical significance while providing a welcoming, immersive and thoroughly modern consumer experience.

Freemark Abbey Winery is part of Jackson Family Wines, a family owned portfolio of wineries and vineyards spanning significant wine-growing regions across California, Oregon, France, Italy, Australia, Chile and South Africa. In each region, vineyard ownership remains key to exceptional quality and environmental stewardship for future generations. Founded in 1982 by wine pioneer Jess Jackson, the wine company is led by Chairman Barbara Banke and the Jackson family.  www.jacksonfamilywines.com.