Spanish wine producer highlights lifestyle to make splash in the US

The goal is to establish a reputation in the US for quality wines from DOCa Rioja, which produces 10 million cases a year.

Client: Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen Calificada Rioja (Spain)
PR agency: CRT/tanaka (Richmond, VA)
Campaign: Vibrant Rioja Trade Program
Duration: January 2010-ongoing
Budget: $1.9 million

Consejo Regulador de la Denominacion de Origen Calificada Rioja, or DOCa Rioja, is a regulatory council that oversees wine production in Rioja, Spain's north central region. The goal is to establish a reputation in the US for quality wines from DOCa Rioja, which produces 10 million cases a year.

Strategy
CRT/tanaka and DOCa Rioja are focused on strengthening ties with key distributors and retailers, as well as educating them about the products and presenting Rioja as more than a wine region, but a lifestyle.

Tactics
The team divided the US into geographical regions - the Southeast, Midwest, and Northeast - and hired regional specialists to develop relationships with key players there.

It also uses digital efforts, such as on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, its unique website, live-streaming wine tastings with experts, branded merchandise, consumer giveaways, and in-store signage for large retailers.

"It's a challenge responding to the size of the US market - it's practically an entire continent," says Ana Fabiano, brand ambassador for DOCa Rioja and campaign trade director, "while distinguishing the wine from competitors when buyers are filtering and reducing their portfolios in this economy."

Results
In 2010, Rioja wine sales in the US rose 33% from the previous year. The campaign has yielded 1,000-plus promotions in 21 states and 110 cities; 90 new placements, representing more than 150 wineries; and 200 trade and 800 consumer events.

Binny's in Chicago; Specs and Centennial in Texas; and the Pennsylvania Liquor Board now sell Rioja wines. Articles have also appeared in major US papers and wine magazines.

Future
"Rioja remains committed to the US market," says Fabiano.

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