On the campaign trail

While Rioja continues to steal the limelight for Spanish wines, two other established regions are pushing for greater airtime, reports Charlotte Hey


AS THE OLD ADAGE GOES: “You can’t please all of the people all of the time.” But this is what generic promotional campaigns, by their very nature, attempt to do. Bring together a diverse group of companies, each with a different set of needs and objectives, and try to structure a promotional campaign that will achieve tangible rewards of benefit to each of them – whether boutique, mid-sized or large.

Not an easy task. And not one that is often achieved, especially when it comes to promoting a top-end Spanish wine region. I suppose I should know – I used to try to do it. However the Ribera del Duero and Rueda generic campaign that was launched in the US just over a year ago seems to have proved the cliché and received wisdom wrong.

In fact, the exports of Ribera del Duero’s wines increased by more than 18.1% in volume and 35.3% in value between 2014 and 2015 (Department of Customs & Excise, Spain) – figures that are not often attributable to a brand campaign, never mind a generic.

After its first full year the Ribera del Duero campaign appears to be gaining real traction in the US market, delivering some positive short-term results. Felipe González-Gordon, who is in charge of the campaign, believes the secret to his success is based on the consumer purchase journey, “whereby we need to create awareness to engender consideration which will lead to purchase”. He continues: “Because we are in a very dynamic environment, involving multiple moving parts, the three-tier system and individual brands at different stages of development, the campaign efforts carefully balance trade activities and consumer activities geared to impact these three areas of the journey to purchase.”

And winery and brand owners in the region seem to be impressed – both large and small, and from within and out of the region.

Abadía Retuerta, a single-estate winery with five-star hotel attached, is just on the edges of the DO Ribera del Duero but general manager Enrique Valero sees definite advantages to the campaign. “These types of campaigns are really interesting for various reasons. First, because the US market is key for premium wines from Spain, though Abadía Retuerta wines are not in the DO Ribera del Duero, we have always had US as key priority and we need to communicate actively with our consumers.

“Secondly, this campaign is targeting the right consumer – younger, open-minded and interested in the quality produced in the Castilla y León region. Thirdly, because part of the campaign is linked to top sommeliers, chefs and gastronomy, an important part of our culture and identity, it makes a lot of sense. And finally it is a very clever idea to optimise the use of social media to communicate with a younger target group.”

Spanish brand owner Félix Solis Avantis, with wineries and wine brands across the peninsula, has perceived a wine change. Felix Solis Jnr admits that: “We don’t sell a big amount of our Ribera del Duero wines in the US, but we have seen that there has been an increase in the recognition of these wines in recent years as a result of the marketing campaigns launched by the CRDO Ribera del Duero.”