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Marketing Brand Strategy Wine

How 19 Crimes became ‘poster child’ for wine marketing

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By Hannah Bowler | Senior Reporter

November 7, 2023 | 7 min read

Freeing itself from the shackles of traditional wine marketing, 19 Crimes has instead been showing up at the Ultimate Fighting Championships and getting a priest to bury its bottles in a London graveyard (no, really).

19 Crimes 'Break Conventions' 2023 campaign

19 Crimes 'Break Conventions' 2023 campaign

Australian wine group Treasury Wine Estates changed the game in 2018, launching an edgier wine brand to recruit non-wine drinkers to the category. Sales of its 19 Crimes went from 4m bottles on release to 18m within its first 18 months.

Marcus Ingleby is the global marketing manager at 19 Crimes, leading the wine brand’s distinctive marketing. He tells The Drum: “The wine category is aging and is failing to bring in younger consumers. 19 Crimes was created to try and meet that younger generation who just weren’t attracted to the category and were looking for something different.”

19 Crimes doesn’t follow the traditional wine marketing rulebook, choosing not to engage the critics or to do PR with the likes of the FT and The Times. It doesn’t have a presence at wine fairs, either. Instead, you’ll find it at the Craft Beer Festival and the London Coffee Festival, for example. “We show up places that wine shouldn’t be because that’s where our consumer is and where we get the biggest standout,” says Ingleby. A crucial difference is that 19 Crimes doesn’t spend that much time talking about the wine itself.

The brand has also become a sponsor of the UFC in Asia. “A wine company sponsoring UFC is just so not typical, but it’s a great audience fit for us and its fan numbers are just immense. It is a sponsorship for us but also a media channel.”

It’s a strategy Hardys and Echo Falls owner Accolade Wines is also looking to emulate, with the fellow Australian company recently developing new brands and shaking up its marketing to keep wine relevant. Ingleby says 19 Crimes “is a bit of a poster child” for the wine category just now, showing people how things can be done differently.

‘Everyday moments of rebellion’

For the initial years of its growth, 19 Crimes has prioritized distribution over marketing, but with distribution now in place in the UK, it’s now about growing awareness. In the UK, prompted awareness is still only at 28%, with Ingleby claiming there is a lot of scope for growth.

In April, 19 Crimes went above the line for the first time in the UK with its global platform ‘Everyday Moments of Rebellion,’ which was intended to tie back to the convicts displayed on its bottles.

“In a world where there are a million things you’re supposed to do and where we’re all supposed to be responsible and go to bed early on a Sunday night and iron our shirts, sometimes you just want to tap out of all that,” Ingleby says.

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While the story of the convicts is still present within the branding of 19 Crimes, Ingleby says the concept of rule-breaking and rebellion works better for marketing purposes as it has a broader creative scope.

“It’s such a better brief to give to an agency instead of saying you have to tell real stories of convicts each time,” he says. “It’s just a nice, simple thing to give to any agency partner that we’re working with and make sure that everything comes back to that strategy.”

The rebellion platform has led 19 Crimes to go big for Halloween, with glow-in-the-dark bottles, an AR experience and wine aged in a coffin and buried in a London commentary.

For the later activation, 19 Crimes got a priest to exhume the wine and invited famous exorcist Ian Lawman to try the first glass of the ‘coffin-aged wine.’ “The wine world says we should age the wine in barrels and put it in cellars under the winery and revere it, so we thought, why not age the wine in a coffin and have the coffin in a graveyard?”

With success cracking the US, UK and Australian markets, 19 Crimes has set its sights on growing in more territories. When weighing up whether to enter a new market, Ingleby says it will be looking for national cultures that are open to rebellion and rule-breaking.

“Everything we do, the question is what rules are we breaking and are they rules we think should be broken. That’s down to the packaging, the NPD, it’s down to the comms and the PR stunts. Let’s get really clear on what the rule is and then let’s talk about how we interestingly break that.”

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