Coppola Winery Launches Consumer Marketing Push

Francis Ford Coppola released his first wine in 1978, and didn’t take it to market until 1985.

“I didn’t know how to market it,” the famed “Godfather” saga director, who’s also renowned for doing things his own way, told Wine Enthusiast in 2012.

For lo these many years, Francis Ford Coppola Winery’s marketing strategy has been “very much trade based,” with billboards and print tied to retailer locations as the primary media, reports Jennifer Leitman, SVP of marketing for parent company The Family Coppola. 

While continuing the trade strategy, the brand is now also launching a significant consumer marketing push, using a mix of digital content and promotions and live experiences in key markets. 



The company is no stranger to events and entertainment: The Sonoma, Calif.-based Coppola winery goes well beyond the usual vineyard tour/tasting activities to offer food, music, dancing, games, swimming and live performances. The Family Coppola also operates family resorts in off-the-beaten-track locations, in addition to the American Zoetrope film production company, an online wine store, a San Francisco café, and a literary magazine (not to mention marketing a line of organic pastas and sauces). 

“We’re a wine company and so much more,” says Leitman. “We’re for foodies, travel enthusiasts, and film buffs. Attaching our brand to shareable experiences and content that’s fun, relatable, unpretentious, and entertaining is key. In the end, most consumers want you to entertain them and engage them where they live, which is online and with their friends.”

Reflecting its founder’s legendary storytelling talent, the campaign features a film contest, “imaginative content, an adventurous theme, exclusive festival partners and a branded film — all heavily centered around digital buys,” Leitman says.

Film Contest Now Underway

The campaign’s anchor is a short film contest hosted by the winery, which is accepting submissions at CoppolaShorts.coman extension of Coppola’s website, through September 5. Filmmaker/entrepreneur Roman Coppola will judge the contest, and the winning film will premiere at the winery's private venue during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in January.

The contest, which has been promoted through the company’s Zoetrope:All-Story Magazine and social channels, as well as outreach to film schools and filmmakers, has attracted more than 600 entries since April, reports Leitman. “Once the films are narrowed down to the top contenders, we’ll be working with the films and filmmakers to gain exposure for their efforts,” she adds. “We’re talking to partners now on the best way to share them out, get them in front of a wider audience.”

The winery is also working on digital, interactive in-store promotions that will allow wine shoppers to view the top films at participating retailers, starting in January. 

Branded Film to Debut in 2H

A branded film, also under Roman Coppola’s supervision, is being directed by Rodrigo Saavedra, a Brazilian director known for his work for Corona, Chivas and Volkswagen, among others. Being shot in Italy this summer, the film — which will be under 10 minutes in length, according to Leitman — will be released later in the year. It, too, will be shown during Sundance, at the winery’s private venue. 

The company is working on a distribution plan for the film, which is “intended to reflect the spirit of adventure and fresh thinking that’s at the center of The Family Coppola brand,” and will be the tentpole of its 2018 first-quarter marketing campaign, Leitman says. 

Partnerships for Experiences

The winery has also formed partnerships which, in combination, reach across age demographics. Thrillist, Gothamist, Time Out and Pandora, among other media, are presenting Coppola winery-sponsored events, like sunset cruises, in major U.S. markets including Chicago and New York.

Tickets to those events are being marketed on the “Diamond Adventure” area of the winery’s site — the brand’s first online content hub, according to Leitman. 

That hub also includes a unit linking to the winery’s Pandora channel with a summer playlist, and a gallery of fan selfies tagged with #DiamondAdventure. (Coppola’s flagship wines are called the Diamond Collection.) Sharing with the hashtag is being encouraged across the winery’s social media channels.

“As our partners roll out more content, we’ll be supplementing the hub with their contributions,” Leitman says.

In addition, the brand will implement “custom activations” on the festival circuit with partners such as BottleRock, the Newport Folk Festival, and the Junk Gypsies, also being promoted on its content hub. 

Beyond its plans for the 2018 Sundance festival (the Coppola winery was also a sponsor of Sundance 2017), the brand announced in January a three-year deal to be the wine sponsor for the Academy Awards and the Governors Ball. 

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