When Is the Right Time To Say No?

Here’s a question from someone searching for some b2c/b2b communications advice. Have a read, have a think.

I shall be asking questions.

How does one go about promoting a ‘healthy’ wine made from pomegranates (http://www.rimonwinery.co.uk) in the UK?

 A friend of mine is importing a new kind of wine made entirely from pomegranates. There are three types: dry red, desert and ‘port-style’. The challenge is to define the market and work out a PR and marketing plan, as well as develop the look and feel of the brand. It is purported to have health benefits over and above red wine made from grapes. Apparently it has three times the antioxidants plus other health properties. A difficult challenge seeing how alcohol and health don’t really mix. The other issue is with price point (£20–£26) although the desert wine is being sold in Waitrose for £14.99. Other facts: the wine as a high alcoholic content; 100% sugar free; usable as a mixer for cocktails; produced in a family winery in Galilee, Israel. Thoughts and tips would be highly appreciated!

(Obviously, the ‘friend’ mentioned here is a friend of the questioner, not a friend of mine. Although, if it HAD been a friend of mine, my response would have been the same.)

The question to you, gentle readers, is what would you do? There’s probably some budget and some money to be made from this. What advice would you give?

For what it’s worth, here’s mine:

“DO NOT attempt to promote this on a health platform. Alcohol consumption is not healthy, and you will fall foul of the drinks industry’s self-regulatory code and its regulating body, The Portman Group. Hell, you might as well go the whole nine yards and suggest that it improves your sex life as well.

First, in the nicest possible way, address the product’s limitations. It’s niche and is never going to be mass market. It’s expensive. It’s not an everyday drink. It’s made from something that a) people are only just accepting as a viable alternative to cranberry juice and b) is in no way, shape, or form associated with wine.

Then, what are the product’s unique selling points and attractors? It’s unique. It’s unusual. It’s ‘limited edition’. It’s from Israel.

(BTW – what does it taste like? Be honest with yourself. If its taste is even slightly an ‘acquired’ one, then stick that fact in both the ‘limitation’ and in the ‘USP’ column.)

What’s the personality of the product – and the personality of the product’s manunfacturers – is it fun? Is it serious? Is it young? Is it upmarket or is it down with the kids? This will determine your ‘tone of voice’ for all communication/marketing activity.

Once you’ve reconciled the limitations and the USPs – who’s your target audience? Who, given everything you’ve thought about the product and its tone of voice, are the people who are going to, or might (at least), consume this drink?


Press release to all drinks correspondents on media aimed at your target audience (eg if it’s housewives, then the Daily Mail, if it’s young guys, then Zoo and Nuts, if it’s ‘girls’ night out’, then Grazia and Now etc etc) – information about the product, how it can be enjoyed, where you can buy it, how much it costs. Offer samples.

Hold a tasting for your chosen drinks correspondents – get a mixologist to do some cocktails for them. Have the recipes available for them to take away, with samples of the product.

Build a consumer-facing website – feature the URL on all your marketing/PR collateral. Start a group on FaceBook (it doesn’t cost anything except time.) Your website should have – at the least – pictures, cocktail recipes, and some background information and, most importantly, a feedback mechanism. Act on feedback.

Target the Jewish community – fiercely loyal to Israeli products, they are great ambassadors for any brand

And get a couple of sales guys to go out, with the product, and try and get it into some ‘style bars’ (ideally Boujis, Mahiki and the Met, but this may be aiming too high) – you need bright young things to be seen to be drinking it.

There’s a loads and loads of stuff that you could do – it’s all dependent on time and budget.

Personally, I don’t think it will ever rise above the level of niche product, and I think, outside of the Israeli/Jewish community, you’re not looking at a big success. Sorry.

So be wary of PR people who promise the earth at a cost. You may well be buying nothing more than smoke and mirrors.”

What would you have done? Told the guy that there is, really, very little chance of pomegranate wine become the next Bailey’s – or taken the money for as long as it lasted?

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