Ribera del Duero and Rueda are two neighboring wine regions in the middle of northern Spain which, like dozens of other regions around the world, would love to sell more wine in the U.S. Most people in the trade are familiar with Ribera’s reds, with its icons such as Vega Sicilia and Pingus as well as loads of lesser-known value wines. Still, fewer know about the whites of Duero and their growing quality and value.
Working with the U.S. marketing agency, Taste Network, the two devised a campaign to spend no money on big box retailers or DTC appeals. Rather, they would do a trade partnership with independent specialty food retailers to pair the Spanish wines with the retailers’ food products. This way, the retailers’ ability to hand-sell and create relationships with customers would profit both the wine producers and the food and wine retailers – hopefully long term.
Recently, I talked with the Taste Network owner Brady Lowe about the campaign. Here is our conversation, slightly edited and condensed:
Isn’t it a little unusual to have a campaign about wine regions and share the spotlight with food?
Not really. It’s a trade-focused campaign, and one of the best ways for the trade to reach consumers is through pairing wine and food – it’s an almost organic approach for enjoying any beverage. Plus, the optics are such that people are often willing to spend more on a pairing than they are on either item separately.
Every campaign has a goal or goals. What were those of Ribera & Rueda?
The goal was simply to have consumers want to know more about these two regions, [and in the process] to create a renewed identity for two of Spain’s best wine regions, especially as they are not the best-known wine regions.
You decided to target independent stores which sell both food and wine. Why this channel?
If you work on a campaign with big boxes, such as Costco or Whole Foods, you might get a few wines included in their inventory. But for the same dollar investment spread across 100 independent stores, the sales people will get to know all the wineries, and they will spend the time working with customers on the front line. Another big consideration in this post-pandemic period is that the small independents are the ones that need support. The big boxes did fine during the pandemic.
How did you approach working with these two regions? Of course, they have proximity, but they are quite far apart in their market development – at least outside of Spain.
You’re right. Some people, even consumers, are somewhat aware of Ribero wines, as they have been slowly rising in awareness. But there have been challenges in getting to the next level. As far as Rueda is concerned, nobody knew anything about them. Rueda isn’t even in the curriculum of most sommelier-training programs.
What kind of collateral did you create for Ribero & Rueda?
We wanted content that would be evergreen, that could be recycled, and that could continue to be used after the initial campaign was over. And we created everything – videos, photos, even the captions.
From the standpoint of Taste Network, did you get involved with customer events?
No. Our tastings and training events were all for training the staff as a way to empower the stores to be the source of information for their customers. The more that store personnel do the events as the experts, the more they are likely to feel comfortable with these wines and their regions.
If you had to choose one store to be the storybook poster child for the Ribera & Rueda campaign, whose story would that be?
Oh, Di Bruno Brothers in Philadelphia is a great example of a store that embraced this campaign. What a family business! They took over this campaign so that it wasn’t a Taste Network presentation; it was a Di Bruno presentation. They empowered their sales people to make it authentic to their stores in ways that they incentivized employees and used social media. I wish I had 20 of them!