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The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies Wine

How 9Rooftops brought the sun of a Californian vineyard to Penfold's virtual launch


By Awards Analyst, writer

December 7, 2021 | 4 min read

9Rooftops Marketing won ‘Corporate Event of the Year’ at The Drum Awards for Experience with its project for Penfolds. A wine company with an 177-year history, it was launching its first Californian wine – but launching the collection during the pandemic brought its own challenges. Here, the team behind this winning entry explains how it overcome them.


The Californian Collection is Penfold's first wine from an American vineyard, and deserved a special, star-studded launch.

Over the past two decades, Penfolds had been working on a special wine that represented a convergence of the company’s venerable winemaking style with California’s renowned sun and soil. The California Collection was to be Penfolds’s very first wine from outside Australia in its 177-year history. Unfortunately, the launch happened to be in the middle of a global pandemic. It was in this high-stakes context that Nine Rooftops went to work to concept, design and activate a new kind of launch for the consumer and trade. The result was innovative and grand, yet intimate— The California Collection Virtual Inaugural Release, an invite-only event streamed live from Adelaide, Australia, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

And with an event this extraordinary, we couldn’t open with a simple round of introductions— So 9Rooftops produced a custom dance piece, choreographed to artfully express the California Collection’s origin story. At a time when many performers were sidelined because of Covid restrictions, we were thrilled to support the dance community while helping bring the wine collection to life. Virtual attendees received custom wine kits so they could sample and learn about wine in real time, alongside the Penfolds winemakers. Additionally, we collaborated with luxury partners; Paravel luggage, Riedel glassware, Short Stories NYC/LA and renowned artist Donald Robertson to create a subset of 100 VIP kits—which were hand delivered to influencers, media and celebrities, including wine lovers and funny women, Courtney Cox and Rebel Wilson.

The event’s grand finale was an exclusive musical performance from Tony-Award-winning and Oscar-nominated actor and singer, Leslie Odom Jr. As the golden sun set on the California hills and the lights pulsed, participants sipped their wines and enjoyed the special set, all courtesy of Penfolds. It was the perfect ending to a truly extraordinary event. And the attendees weren’t the only ones impressed.

Among the accolades and buzz, the event garnered over 2,300 high-value viewers, 75 million social media impressions, and logged an average viewing time of 74 minutes, crushing the average for virtual events by 160%. And sales numbers were equally impressive, as Penfolds experienced a 30-percent lift across bars, restaurants and independent retailers. It seems there’s a good reason the wine’s motto is ‘Meet Extraordinary’.

“At every touchpoint, your team exhibited such professionalism, enthusiasm, and grace under very trying circumstances in this reimagined virtual world. The 9Rooftops team listened to our needs and elevated this experience beyond anything we could have imagined, and Penfolds is indebted to them. The launch of our Penfolds California Collection will forever be a moment in our history, and we are grateful that you and the team were part of this incredible chapter.” Ben Dollard, Penfolds president, Americas

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Experience. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

The Drum Awards Awards Case Studies Wine

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