Inter-Rhone, the Avignon, France-based trade association for the region's wines, is launching its first U.S. consumer-advertising campaign this fall with the theme "Cotes du Rhone: Always Right." Ads will be in print publications and out-of-home executions initially in the New York market and then in other major U.S. markets.
While Americans don't require as much initial product education as Asians, "we are reinforcing recognition of the names of the various A.O.C.s (Appellation d'Origine Controlée) in the region to help encourage recall in the Rhone section at the retail level," says Oriane Beloud, export marketing manager for Inter-Rhone. Inter-Rhone says Cotes du Rhone, along the Rhone River between Lyon and Avignon, is the second-largest A.O.C. in France.
The ads talk about the versatility of wines from the region, which comprise some 6,000 growers in the southeast of France. The ads for the campaign don't show pictures of rolling hills, vines on trellises, or rambling, rustic chateaux. Rather, the ads use visual cues showcasing the versatility of Cotes du Rhone wines.
The campaign, via ArnoldNYC, will appear nationally in publications, including Real Simple, Food & Wine, Fortune, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast. The campaign also will run in major regional markets in print on the East Coast, including New York, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
In New York, the campaign will include ads on the Metro North and Long Island Rail Road on interior car cards and platform posters and via wild postings in the city.
Jon Frederickson, principal of Woodside, Calif.-based Gomberg Frederickson and Associates, says a major issue for Rhone wines is that they are a luxury item favored by aficionados, and "like every other segment, luxury wines are having a difficult time. French wines are up against a very strong Euro and very high prices for recent vintages. But Rhone wines still represent some reasonably good value."
Frederickson adds that while consumers have reined in spending on wines as they have on everything else, the effect has been on lower sales of wines over $20, as consumers have moved down to lower price points below $15 or even $10. "But," he adds, "consumers are drinking more wine, so it's not like the auto industry; wine sales and shipments were up 7% through June, including California and imports, but it's all at the lower price points." That, he says, is partly because the largest producers have upgraded quality at the lower prices.
He says that Inter-Rhone's focus on educated, affluent urbanites makes sense. "The demographics of Rhone consumers would definitely be more upscale, college-educated consumers who have some wine knowledge."