By Published on .

Most Popular
Canandaigua Wine Co., in a challenge to E&J Gallo Winery's hold on the market, is launching its biggest ad effort, a network TV campaign breaking this week for its new Mystic Cliffs premium wines.

Canandaigua will back Mystic Cliffs with a $35 million marketing budget over the next 18 months, $22 million of that slated for measured media.

"It's kind of the price of power," said Paul Hetterich, VP-premium wine, particularly in today's wine-marketing environment, where an increasing percentage of sales are made at supermarkets.


"If you are able to build familiarity, then consumers will choose you vs. the other 199 chardonnays on the shelf," he said.

Gallo has long led vintners in market share and spending, traditionally doing the lion's share of advertising in the category. In 1997, Gallo spent $28.5 million, according to data from Impact and Competitive Media Reporting. Brown-Forman Corp. was second, with $11 million.

In addition, Gallo's grip on wine distribution has been legendary. Over the years, however, more of the wine shelf has been devoted to more expensive varietals-the $10 to $20 premium wines-giving other marketers an opening.


"If you can win the heart of the consumer, you can overcome some but not all of that [Gallo] marketing strength," said one veteran wine marketer.

Pat Dodd, marketing director for the Gallo of Sonoma brand, said his winery is "fully supportive" of any additional wine ad spending. "This category can use all the promotion it can get,"*he said.

The Canandai-gua spots, from Trone Advertising, Greensboro, N.C., show a hawk flying over vineyards and a couple enjoying wine by a fireplace. The ads, aimed at 30-to-45-year-olds, broke last week on some cable outlets.

Mystic Cliffs, priced in the $5.50 to $10 range, is in the popular premium to premium segment of the varietal market.

Mr. Hetterich said Canandaigua's Arbor Mist, launched this summer, has achieved sales of 1 million cases in its first 100 days, reminiscent of the 1980s success of Gallo's Bartles & Jaymes brand, which kicked off the wine cooler craze.

Arbor Mist is a low-alcohol blend of fruit flavors with chardonnay and white zinfandel wines, backed with a $5 million effort also from Trone.

Gallo has started a new flight of ads for Gossamer Bay varietals. And it plans a TV and print campaign for Gallo of Sonoma, which will continue to feature Gallo granddaughter Gina Gallo. Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, handles Gossamer Bay, Gallo of Sonoma, Turning Leaf and other brands.


Other efforts are expected from the Gallo, including ads for Italian-style wine, Ecco Domani, from Y&R Advertising, San Francisco.

Black Rocket, San Francisco, is believed to be working on a project for a Gallo light wine, possibly a competitor to Arbor Mist.

Other major marketers are gearing up for the annual holiday marketing push. Beringer Wine Estates today launches an estimated $7 million TV campaign in about two-dozen markets, via Goldberg Moser O'Neill, San Francisco.

J. Walter Thompson USA's San Francisco office is preparing a new round of ads for United Distillers & Vintners's BV wine.


Robert Mondavi Winery, which postponed until next year its planned branding effort from Dailey & Associates, Los Angeles, will spend about $7.5 million on wine advertising during the holiday season, primarily on radio and print.

"This is a pivotal year in wine marketing," said Martin Johnson, senior VP, Robert Mondavi, noting that 11% of the adults who drink wine consume 88% of the wine sold in the U.S.

"Not many new people are adopting wine," he said.

The industry next year will begin testing a generic campaign from Bozell Worldwide, Chicago, which could get $50 million in support if early results prove satisfactory.

In this article: