This campaign showed how climate change could make the UK a leading wine exporter. It combined creative flair, academic rigour and a solid business outcome. It repositioned the client in the wine sector and generated high levels of consumer awareness. Critically, the client attributes this campaign to delivering a measurable sales gain during their most important sales period – giving them “their busiest Christmas ever”.

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Entry:

Brief and objectives:

Over the previous two years MHP had been building the profile of Laithwaite’s range of English sparkling wines – as both a retailer and producer – through product placement with food and wine writers and hooks around seasonal events such as weddings and Christmas.

The brief was to create a new campaign that delivered the following:

  • Brand coverage beyond specialist wine pages into national and regional news
  • Deliver a story about the growing quality of English sparkling wine in the peak December retail period
  • Position Laithwaite’s buyers as experts in national media
  • Drive sales.

 

Rationale behind campaign, including research and planning:

The team at MHP had been very successful in securing coverage for Laithwaite’s range of English sparkling wine in the food and drink pages of national and regional media.

However, we saw the opportunity for a bigger, creative thought leadership piece that demonstrated Laithwaite’s wine knowledge and expert credentials as both a major retailer as well as producer of the English sparkling wine.

The backstory to the success of English sparkling wine is thanks in no small part to climate change over the past 30 or 40 years in the South east of England.

So we asked a simple question: if climate is continuing to change what is the potential for English wine production at the start of the next century? In a perfectly timed post-Brexit story could the UK, given the correct climate conditions, become a global producer and exporter of other grape varieties by 2100?

That was speculation on our part. We needed serious science to back it up. Enter Professor of Climatology and Geography Mark Maslin from UCL. MHP approached him and asked his team would be able to provide new research, data and analysis to see if the theory.

To do this, they combined information about the required growing season temperature range for each grape variety (usually April to October in the Northern Hemisphere), long-term average climate data on temperature and rainfall for the UK, and how this long-term average climate is predicted by climate models to change through to 2100.

The analysis was based on the following 3 variables that affect wine grape growing:

  • Average growing season temperature (between April and October)
  • Average Annual Rainfall
  • Rainfall in the month of harvest: one of the biggest problems for UK viticulture is the threat of heavy rainfall in the month of harvest (currently October).

Using this model Mark was able to produce individual maps for each grape variety showing areas where they could be successfully cultivated.

 

Strategy and tactics, including creativity and innovation:

The premise of the story was based on articles we’d read about climate change in Northern Europe and our idea that everyday places like Milton Keynes could therefore be transformed into wine producing regions. We also joked in planning about by Del Boy from Only fools and Horses and the thought that ‘Chateau Peckham; could one day be every bit as good as Chateau Petrus.

The results were astonishing. They revealed that a huge swathe of Eastern Britain and Central England, starting from the length of the Thames estuary and even as far as Edinburgh could be ripe for an array of different grapes, even Syrah and Malbec. It showed how, in particular Essex, East Anglia and a large area around Greater London – including Peckham – would be perfect for the nation’s favourite grape varieties Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.

According to Professor Maslin, who also holds a WSET wine certification, the study “could change about how we thought about the long-term future of wine production in the UK and redraw the future wine map of the world”.

Giving us the news hook we’d hoped for at the outset the press release was titled ‘From Chateau Petrus to Chateau Peckham’.

 

Implementation of tactics:

To bring the research to life MHP and Laithwaite’s in-house design team used a current wine map of France for inspiration to create The Wine Map of the UK in 2100.

The methodology, findings and analysis from Professor Maslin and Laithwaite’s buyer Davy Zyw were published on the Laithwaite’s site and issued to media – along with information about the booming English sparkling wine market.

Quotes from Mark and Davy were included in press materials and both were made available as spokespeople to talk about the findings and why English sparkling is becoming as good, if not better, than popular Champagne and Prosecco.

 

Measurement and evaluation:

From the front page of the Financial Times to features in The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Sky News and The Wall Street Journal coverage captured the post-Brexit mood, with many using the Chateau Peckham tagline.

The proof point is the campaign contributed to record sales of English sparkling wine in December 2016 for Laithwaites Wine:

  • 44% YOY increase during week of campaign activity
  • 39% increase on previous week.

110 pieces of print and online coverage:

  • 15 national print and online (including Financial Times front page, Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Daily Mail, Mail Online, Daily Express)
  • 5 international news titles (including Wall Street Journal and Time)
  • 10 lifestyle and trade (including Decanter and Drinks Business)
  • 85 regional.

Broadcast:

  • 2 TV news (Sky News and ITV East Anglia)
  • Sky News Radio syndicated to over 150 UK regional stations including Heart FM network.

Social:

  • 1,000 + positive social shares of online articles.

Creating over 600 million opportunities to see, hear or read about Laithwaite’s Wine.

Drink Business magazine described the campaign in its print edition as “The Grand Cuvee of PR ideas”.

 

Budget and cost effectiveness:

MHP fee for planning, data analysis, press materials, media relations: £5.5k (monthly retainer).
UCL fees and costs (Prof Maslin): £2k.

Total: £7.5k.

Wine Map design was done in-house by Laithwaite’s.

“Normally we see this kind of category sale uplifts from a costly direct mail campaign to our our 750,000 registered customer base. The coverage helped change media and consumer perception of Laithwaite’s as a traditional, old-fashioned wine retailer and marketer. Meanwhile the coverage was shared internally as a source of pride and demonstrated the power of PR and a simple, innovative idea on a small budget” – Andrew Stead, Director of Communications, Laithwaite’s Wine.