A Taste of 'Rome'

HBO Supplies Restaurant Patrons With Free Wine

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- If you happen to be dining Italian in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago Jan. 10-13, you may get a glass of consumer marketing to go with your pasta.
'Rome,' HBO's sex-blood-and-togas series, is offering a complimentary bottle of wine at some eateries to promote its second season.
'Rome,' HBO's sex-blood-and-togas series, is offering a complimentary bottle of wine at some eateries to promote its second season. Credit: Hoag Levins

Cabernet sauvignon
HBO will offer complimentary bottles of "Rome" cabernet sauvignon at more than 100 eateries in the three cities to promote the second-season launch of its sex-blood-and-togas series, debuting Jan. 14. But rather than have restaurant servers introduce the product by saying "And our house wine tonight is brought to you by HBO," consumers will be presented with a polite card at their tables: "A taste of 'Rome' awaits you. Ask server for details."

The appetizing promo was the brainchild of Lime Public Relations & Promotions, which paired with HBO to promote season two of "Entourage." Lime President Claudia Strauss said wine was a perfect way to plug the show contextually while still being creative. "The show is all about indulgence, and we just felt this was a great way to bring to life one of the key aspects of the story line."

Authentic taste
Though intended to give diners an authentic taste of the show's premise, the "Rome" wine was not shipped in from Italy; it was produced in California. HBO's senior VP-consumer marketing, Courteney Monroe, was unable to secure an Italian wine vendor, but she doesn't believe the promotion fails logistically. The detail is as subtle as the promotion was intended to be.

"What appealed to us is it enabled us to reach consumers with a tune-in message in an unexpected way," Ms. Monroe said. "It feels organic but not obtrusive. We're not taking over these restaurants in an overt way. It really gets our advertising message across in an innovative but tasteful way."
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