The Washington Wine Commission’s “World Class Wine in Our Own Backyard,” does it deliver? I recently receive the press release on the newest WWC (Washington Wine Commission) campaign. “Supported by more than $100,000 in radio, print, online, and mobile advertising, the campaign marks the first advertising and marketing campaign of its kind in the Northwest sponsored by the Washington State Wine Commission.” Exciting! At first glance, I was pumped about the potential. A 60 day focus on value and helping Washington residents discover (or rediscover) the amazing wine in our state. But, does the program deliver all that it could?
First, let me say, I’m a huge fan of the WWC and their efforts. In a recent Skype interview, Ryan Pennington, WWC Senior Communication Manager, shared the program with our readers. I think the program deserves a spin free zone and a hard look at what is being offered to consumers. Additionally, I’m a little hyper sensitive to how the WWC is going to use the dollars saved by NOT hosting a Taste Washington event in Spokane.
Kudos to the WWC for trying something new. “More than 40 of the participating restaurants are also involved in Seattle Restaurant Week, which takes place from October 17 – 28. These restaurants will offer diners a three-course dinner for only $25, with some also offering three-course lunches for $15. Many “World-Class Wine in Your Own Backyard” participating restaurants will be combining this three-course meal with special offers on Washington wine for World-Class Value Pass holders.” To me there is a blurring of two programs. The Seattle Restaurant Week is great…for people who live in Seattle, but does adding these things into the “Value Pass” program really add value? Is the program geared toward “pass” savings or is it just an awesome promotional awareness of Washington wine?
Here is how the program works. Download the World-Class Value Pass and enjoy BIG savings on Washington wines from September 1 – October 31, 2010. What are the values you’re receiving? If the WWC is spending $100,000 to promote this program, and encourage people to use a “pass,” what are we getting with that pass?
Washington boasts 700+ wineries, yet only 50 are participating in this program. Are economic conditions so good, they don’t need the extra ad revenue? Was there an additional fee to buy in to the program? I would love to hear from some of the wineries. For the most part, the consumer benefit is pretty good with these wineries that are participating. I applaud their efforts to offer free tasting fees, extra % off on bottle or case purchases. At a glance of the offers, the benefit seems to give consumers the “member” prices at most of the participating wineries, even if they are not wine club members. But why only 7% of the total wineries for such a signature program?
Spokane Wine: Because I live in Spokane, I tend to keep a keen eye out for Spokane centric wine offers. Spokane represents with 3 of our 17 wineries (a higher % than at the state level). But, is there extra value offered for holding a “World-Class Value Pass?” Overbluff Cellars is offering 10% off purchases to pass holders. Spokane wineries Barrister and Mountain Dome are offering other very awesome promotions, but a pass is not required.
70 participating restaurants are offering “deals” for pass holders. Sounds exciting. Deals? 10% off a bottle of wine – so, that $6 wholesale bottle of Seven Hands Merlot that you have priced at $30 a bottle, I get to buy for just $27. Okay, okay, I know I’m being cynical. Of the 70+ restaurants on the list, 50+ are participants in the Seattle Restaurant Week. 1) The deals being offered are more of a result of the Seattle Restaurant Week promotion. 2) Clicking through a few of the deals revealed very generic offerings that are a part of the restaurant’s every day offering. One restaurant offers, “Wine all you Want Mondays. Put an end to Monday blues with Wine all you Want. Enjoy 50% off all bottles of wine ordered with dinner. With over 160 choices, ask xxxx or xxx to recommend a bottle.” This is no different than what you could get any given Monday without the pass. Outside the Seattle Restaurant Week, are the 20 other restaurants are supposed to be a broad representation of the other 35% of Washington’s population base in Vancouver, Walla Walla, Tri-Cities, Wenatchee, and Spokane?
Spokane Restaurants: A whopping TWO Spokane restaurants are on the list. One offers nothing special apart from their normal offering and the other says they are “featuring” Washington wine flights but makes no mention of any special deal for pass holders. This is a total failure in my opinion. The WWC is not to blame for this, but I would be interested in the recruiting process and “requirements” to play.
Eight retailers are participating in the program. Two are statewide, Albertsons and Safeway. The other six are independent wine shops. Great work to the independents for offering between 10-25% off wines for value pass holders. Two complaints here – Albertsons and Safeway, really – are you kidding me? Albertson’s says they will “offer % off Washington wine in their weekly ads.” They do that anyway. Every week, Albertson’s offers “10% on select Washington wines.” Safeway?! You’re even worse. “Mix and match six wines and you’ll receive 10% off the entire purchase.” Uh, yeah…I can do that with six bottles of Yellow Tail Shiraz every day! Where is the value pass value?
Spokane Retailers: The only participating shop here is Vino! I have to offer props to John Allen and team for offering a pass specific savings of 10% off each Washington wine. My only question here is – where is Rocket Market, Huckleberry’s, Bottles, Wine Styles, Williams Seafood?
So, Is there Value?
World Class Value Pass. Winery value? Yes, at about 40 of the 50 participating Washington wineries, there is specific value pass savings, but that number seems awfully small. Restaurant value? At only about 30% of the restaurants – especially considering the super high 400% mark up at most restaurants. Retailer value? Yes, at the 6 independent shops but absolutely NOT at the two state-wide chains mentioned.
With $100,000 in ad space being purchased, the participants should certainly see some good exposure. The WWC has a great concept here, I only wish that the participation rates were higher, a more balanced “outside of Seattle” approach was taken, and more specific pass value was offered. Keep moving forward WWC – I hope to see greater things from this program in the future.
I do want to reiterate my support for the program and the effort of the WWC. Venturing out into something new like this is a great effort. I applaud those wineries, restaurants, and merchants for being progressive and lending their support to the program. When / if version two of this rolls out, I hope to see three times the support and involvement with more pass related discounts.