After 14 years in business, Bremerton Wines in Langhorne Creek needed to improve its image to remain competitive in the volatile wine industry. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Willson family winery was producing quality wines but it was under threat of losing distributors, customers and in turn business, due to the unappealing and uncompetitive image of its wine packaging.
The decision to re-brand the winery was proposed by <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton management the bonus being it was an opportune time as the young Willson sisters were taking over the management of the winery.
Michels Warren worked with Bremerton for more than six months, researching target markets, defining a new image, and determining a strategy to create a new brand and ensure maximum exposure of the new image and the Willson family story.
Less than six months since the re-launch in February 2004, results have exceeded expectations.
Domestic sales figures show a 36 per cent increase, compared to the same period last year; the number of hits on the Bremerton website have increased by more than 6,000 per month compared to the same months in 2003 and; the new Bremerton label and Willson family story have adorned the pages of almost every major wine publication in Australia.
In 2002, Bremerton Wines in Langhorne Creek was competing with more than 1,700 individual wineries Australia-wide to not only produce excellent wine, but to ensure consumers and exporters chose their brand over the millions of other bottles and varieties available.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The Willson family knew they produced great wine (the awards confirmed this), but concerns about their competitive edge in the marketing stakes were growing.
Consumer and industry research suggested the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton brand wasnt associated or recognised with the award-winning wine they produced.
Bremerton was recording sales of about 20,000 cases a year but their winery had the capacity to produce and sell an extra 10,000.
Bremerton was questioning its own marketing strategies and branding capabilities. Production capacity was limited and founding owner Craig Willson was contemplating his future role in the family business.
When the Willson daughters, winemaker Rebecca and marketing manager Lucy stepped in, Michels Warren assisted the pair in initiating a bold advertising and PR campaign to reposition Bremerton as a strong competitor in the aggressive wine industry.
With the help of Michels Warren, Bremerton was re-launched in February 2004 as an award-winning contemporary winery with new-age ideas and leadership.
Michels Warren assisted national market research company JAM to conduct consumer research campaigns to test the viability, relevance and appeal of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremertons position in the wine market.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Research suggested winemaker Bec and marketing manager Lucy were the only sisters in Australia to be running a winery so designing a new brand targeted more directly at women was considered.
Part of the study was to determine whether there were any real differences between men and women in the wine styles, varieties and characteristics they preferred.
More than 300 male and female consumers from differing regions and States were questioned about South Australias wine producers and wine growing regions with results indicating that only 13 per cent of people surveyed knew the Bremerton brand and only six per cent of these had actually tried their wines.
It also indicated that most women claimed that wine was an important part of their lives and that men and women do prefer differing varieties and characteristics.
Research about the perceptions of Australian Wine Regions by the Wine Marketing Research Group (University of South Australia) was also used to further establish Bremertons market position.
This research was the base for determining and developing Bremertons new-age feminine brand and contemporary image, which features a female silhouette of winemaker Rebecca Willson.
Furthermore, Michels Warren determined that gaining coverage in Australias wine publications was more difficult to secure than general main stream media. The niche wine sector provides unbelievable competition, so meeting wine writers and securing media coverage was going to be challenging and yet vital.
To draw attention to the new brand, Michels Warren focused on the sisters - the profile of the award-winning winemaker Rebecca and her working relationship with marketing manager and sibling, Lucy.
By targeting select groups, the aim was to create awareness of the new brand among the wider community and in turn generate increased sales. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Key audiences included:
Wine media competition for publicity in the wine media is fierce as the market is flooded with story ideas and opportunities. Wine editors and writers are very select with story ideas and the difficulty in securing their attention is immeasurable.
However, their credibility and readership is invaluable, hence national media attention was vital in delivering the new <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton brand to the public.
National and international Bremerton distributors were to be used as messengers to deliver the Bremerton story to retailers, hence it was important they understood the rationale behind the new Bremerton image.
Trade media working in retail and hospitality were a prime target to educate wholesalers and retailers about the brand change and new image.
The wine trade including staff in bottle shops, wine warehouses and cellars needed to understand that Bremertons award winning wines remained unchanged, despite the new image and branding.
Restaurateurs and employees also needed to understand and support the image change to deliver the story to their customers choosing Bremerton from the wine list.
Bremerton ensured members of the 1,400 person database were included during the transition phase.
In January 2004, a new look <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton media kit was developed and distributed to more than 40 wine writers and contacts around Australia. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The kit included a rationale media release (appendix A) posing the story of Bremertons generation change including Australias only wine making sister team Lucy and Bec Willson. The kit also included award winning wines sporting the new brand along with a Bremerton labeled nail brush supported by the message (appendix A) that winemaker Rebecca (who is featured on the label) is not afraid to get her hands dirty. The nail brush was a gimmick that created a talking point beyond the wine.
Following the mass mail out, the Michels Warren team worked the phones to secure one-on-one meetings with Australias most prominent wine contacts.
Armed with a solid media story, a selection of Bremerton wines and material sporting the new brand, Bremertons two vivacious young leaders hit the road in February to meet with Australias leading wine writers (see appendix A).
In an eight-day tour interstate, the Bremerton duo hosted wine-tastings and briefings with:
- ¨ Jeff Collerson Daily Telegraph (NSW) & Sunday Times (WA)
- ¨ Judy Sarris - Australian Wine Gourmet Traveller
- ¨ Kim McCullen - Liquor Watch
- ¨ Greg Duncan Powell - Vogue Entertaining & Travel
- ¨ Huon Hooke - Sydney Morning Herald
- ¨ Ben Canaider GoodTaste/freelance wine journalist
- ¨ Max Allen - The Weekend Australian Magazine
- ¨ Ralph Kyte-Powell - The Age
- ¨ Campbell Mattison Winefront
- ¨ James Halliday Freelance writer
- ¨ Tim White - Financial Review
- ¨ Ray Jordan The West Australian
- ¨ Peter Forrestal Wine Magazine
Michels Warren also helped to spark interest from the South Australian media including:
- ¨ Peter Simic Winestate
- ¨ Kylie Fleming Adelaide Matters
- ¨ Tony Love & Tim Lloyd The Advertiser
- ¨ Graeme Andrews SA Life
Photo shoots were arranged for specific publications including Australian Wine Gourmet Traveller, The Advertiser, Adelaide Matters and The Weekend Australian Magazine.
A series of postcards were sent to each wine writer with a personal thank you card from the girls (appendix A).
A series of Girls just wanna have fun advertisements in select wine publications and on local radio were also run in conjunction with the media campaign (appendix A).
Michels Warren developed and implemented a series of supporting communication tools to launch the new brand to non-media target markets. These included:
- A power point presentation to educate distributors about the new brand was rolled out in every state
- A launch kit with a sales focus was designed for retail trade and a meet and greet with Bremerton reps at retail stores took place in every state
- A launch event for mail order and VIP customers was held at Bremertons cellar door
- A collection of supporting promotional merchandise and marketing collateral - including brochures, aprons, t-shirts and wine openers - were produced and distributed to target publics.
Before the re-branding of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton, the winery was under threat of losing distributors due to the unappealing and uncompetitive image of the wine packaging. The loss of distributors would have quickly lead to a loss in sales both nationally and overseas. The timely launch of their new image, however, helped retain existing distributors and has now given them renewed enthusiasm and greater leverage in distributing Bremerton labeled wines.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Preliminary domestic sales figures show a 36 per cent increase occurred in the 2004 March to June period compared to the same period last year. And the number of hits on the Bremerton website, since the re-branding in February, has increased by more than 6,000 per month when compared to the same months in 2003.
Reports from merchandisers and distributors in the industry indicate that the awareness of Bremerton wines and its Langhorne Creek location has increased immeasurably.
Wine distributor Fesq & Company - Director Mark Fesq told us:
The new look is powerful, classy and contemporary and delivers a stronger sense of who Bremerton is.
Its more reflective of the females who are now behind the business and represents the individuality and great story of the family.
Nelson Wine Company Director Alan Nelson told us:
Weve had a great few months sales wise, since the launch. Awareness of the Bremerton brand has increased and positive media reports are supporting the quality of wine.
The formula is right at the moment as distributors were happy with the new packaging, supported by the enthusiasm and commitment of the Bremerton team.
Meetings with Australias top wine writers initiated a flow of on-going media coverage (appendix A):
Winefront monthly - Three-page story in magazine and website
The Weekend Australian Magazine - Max Allen featured Bremerton Trading on sex and size
Better Homes & Gardens Max Allen recommended Bremerton
Eat & Drink Newsletter - Christopher Hayes reviewed Bremertons wines
Sydney Morning Herald - Greg Duncan Powell recommended Bremerton
Adelaide Matters spotlight/palate - Kylie Fleming featured Willson family profile story
Daily Telegraph & WA Sunday Times - Jeff Collerson wrote full page Bremerton story
Sydney Morning Herald - Huon Hooke reported on story and wines
Food fun wine.com.au recommended Bremerton wine
SA Life - Graeme Andrews recommended Bremerton
Sydney Morning Herald Huon Hooke profiled Bremerton and Langhorne Creek
The Advertisers Food & Wine section - Tim Lloyd featured Bremerton story
The West Australian - Ray Jordan review of Tamblyn and Old Adam wines
Australian Wine Gourmet Traveller story on the Bremerton re-branding
Vogue Entertaining & Travel Greg Duncan Powell recommended Bremerton wines
Wine Magazine site visit and tasting in July by Peter Forrestal
Bremerton also received air time on various radio talk back segments.
In just four months, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Bremerton went from being a relatively unknown winery to one of Australias most written about wine companies.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Bremerton Wines took a big risk in investing thousands of dollars in re-launching itself the wrong image or an unsuccessful PR strategy could have had dire consequences on the Willson family and its business.
Managing Director Craig Willson said the risk was worth taking as the combined results of a new image and a successful public relations strategy has put the Bremerton name at the forefront of consumers and distributors minds.
The extent of media coverage exceeded our expectations, and now as sales results and positive distributor feedback continues to grow, we can see the direct result increased publicity has had on our business, said Mr Willson.
Michels Warren has helped regenerate our business and continues to keep our name and identity in the public eye.