Sonoma Groups Join in Marketing Campaign

New logo unveiled as part of unified marketing push for wine region

by By Andrew Adams
sonoma marketing
A new marketing campaign seeks to broaden the appeal of Sonoma County as a whole.
Santa Rosa, Calif.— The new campaign to unify and promote the image of Sonoma County’s wine business is pretty straight-forward: “We are Sonoma County.”

That message and an accompanying, slanted logo that’s reminiscent of the lettering used on old wooden packing crates will be used in advertising to promote the county and its various American Viticultural Areas.

Unveiled at an event held at the Vintners Inn on Wednesday, the new campaign is the result of two years of work by the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission, Sonoma County Vintners and Sonoma County Tourism Bureau.

The groups, who have dubbed themselves “the trio,” are trying to help all of Sonoma County’s growers and wineries by leading the joint marketing effort. “The spirit of the trio is that we are stronger when we are united,” said Keo Hornbostel, chair of the tourism bureau.

Each of the organizations changed its own logo to reflect the new brand mark, which will be available to any Sonoma County company or group after Sept. 15 and if their use complies with design guidelines.

According to WinesVinesDATA there are 722 wineries in Sonoma County and just under 70,000 acres of vines.

Maximizing the message
In the past, Sonoma County’s wine industry had been touted in a piecemeal fashion between the three lead groups and the various appellation organizations, like the Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers and the Russian River Valley Winegrowers, that are scattered across the large county. “We have not maximized the impact of our marketing dollars at the least, and at the most we’ve confused our consumers,” said Nick Frey, the president of the county winegrape commission.

Design and research work on the new brand mark cost $60,000 and the marketing campaign is being funded with $540,000 most of which has been granted from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Grant funding covered most of the project and will also be used for a buying advertising as well paying for events and materials.

Honore Comfort, executive director of the vintners, said the companies that worked on the brand work kept their costs low because they wanted the chance to work closely with the Sonoma County wine industry.

BHC Consulting helped define the “brand essence” and core target audience, Landor Associates designed the brand image and the Asterix Group worked on the marketing campaign and design guidelines.

New advertisements for Sonoma County are set to appear in Food & Wine magazine and Wine Spectator this fall.

The crowd of more than 120 people who attended the event received a glimpse of some of the advertising. Comfort said it conveys that residents are as comfortable driving a pickup in blue jeans or getting dressed up and going to the opera.

In one advertisement, an image of Agoston Haraszthy is placed next to a photo of the founders of Kosta Browne winery. Beneath Haraszthy reads the phrase “we are vanguard, and below the Kosta Browne winery founders it reads “we are new guard.” Summing up the ad is the campaign’s tagline: “We are Sonoma County.”

Targeting ‘experience seekers’
Materials from the new campaign will be used in online ads, social media, websites, and trade and retail materials. One winery, River Road Vineyards in Sebastopol, Calif., already has Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approval for using the slanted logo on its label.

The campaign is directed at “experience seekers” whom Comfort described as people who have active social lives, enjoy wine, have a connection to the land and like to share their stories. “You all know someone like this if you’re not like them yourselves,” Comfort told the audience.

In the original research for the campaign, consultants found that core U.S. wine drinkers only pick Sonoma County wines 1 out of every 20 times they buy a bottle.

Frey said he wants to see that number doubled and is optimistic the new campaign will achieve it.

The campaign will be implemented over the next six months, and Comfort said staff will benchmark numbers on key statistics to later gauge how successful the marketing effort is in the future. “Now the hard work really starts,” she said.

For more information on the campaign and brand mark visit: www.wearesonomacounty.com




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