A wine brand is playing up the qualities that helped make it so successful in a campaign that is intended to help get it back on the fast track in sales growth.
The brand is Yellow Tail, a line of wines imported from Australia by W. J. Deutsch & Sons. In just 10 years, Yellow Tail has become the best-selling imported wine in the United States and the No. 2 table wine over all, behind only the domestic Barefoot brand sold by E. & J. Gallo.
However, Yellow Tail’s growth in case sales has slowed notably. Case sales climbed from 225,000 in the brand’s first year, 2001, to 1.2 million in 2003, 6.5 million in 2005 and 8.2 million in 2008.
But sales rose only a bit in 2009, to 8.3 million, and remained at that level last year.
So the most recent campaign for Yellow Tail, which carries the theme “Open for anything,” is being replaced by a campaign with a new theme, “The go-to.”
That phrase is meant to convey that Yellow Tail is the go-to wine, the default option for anyone seeking an everyday wine, something to drink for most occasions.
The campaign reinforces the concept that Yellow Tail is a fun, unpretentious choice for consumers who do not consider themselves to be oenophiles and like to not think about vintages, terroir and pairings.
The campaign echoes the initial pitches for Yellow Tail, which gave the brand a lighthearted image by stressing attributes like drinkability and an affordable price. That approach was typified by a campaign with the theme “Tails, you win.”
The campaign proclaiming Yellow Tail as “The go-to” got under way last week with two television commercials. There will also be radio commercials, posters on the sides of trucks, signs in stores and online ads.
And, of course, the campaign has a presence in social media on sites like Facebook, where the brand’s fan page can be found at facebook.com/discoveryellowtail. Yellow Tail offered brand fans a preview of the two TV spots on the Facebook page.
There are more than 30,000 people who say they “like” Yellow Tail, with a goal of reaching 200,000 by the end of the year.
The budget for the campaign is being estimated at $9 million from now to the end of the current Deutsch fiscal year, which ends on March 31.
And there is “the potential of us spending more,” says Renato Reyes, chief marketing officer at Deutsch in White Plains.
That would be a significant increase from spending most recently, according to data from the Kantar Media unit of WPP.
Deutsch spent $5.1 million to advertise Yellow Tail in major media last year, Kantar Media reports, $2.8 million in 2009, $4.3 million in 2008 and almost $7 million in 2007.
The campaign is being created by the Burns Group in New York, an agency that has been working on Yellow Tail since July 2009.
One reason Yellow Tail’s growth has slowed is the increasing competition the brand has faced as it became more popular. Some rivals have been called “critter wines” because their names and brand identities echo the kangaroo motif of Yellow Tail.
Those critter wines include the Little Penguin, Little Roo, Mad Fish and Monkey Bay. There is even a Web site, critterwines.com, devoted to the phenomenon.
“There has been a ton of copycats,” Mr. Reyes acknowledges, contributing to the fact that “our growth has plateaued.”
Needless to say, he says he believes the competition has trouble matching his brand. Yellow Tail “tastes great and is fun, yet has an air of ‘premium-ness,’” he says. “Yellow Tail experienced a meteoric growth when it was a new brand,” and it “represented a gateway into the wine category” for millions of consumers who “wanted to somehow incorporate wine into their lifestyles.”
And Yellow Tail still has “the right to this broad territory, as a wine for everyday occasions, as a beacon of choice,” he adds.
In focus groups, Mr. Reyes recalled, customers described it using phrases like “safe choice,” “quality I can rely on” and “a brand I feel good about buying.”
(That brings to mind a line from the movie “The Best Years of Our Lives” when a sales clerk advising a woman on a fragrance purchase calls it “a good, safe bet” and “a perfume that fits any mood.”)
The idea was for the Burns Group to create a campaign that would reflect those consumer perceptions as it presents Yellow Tail as “fresh, contemporary, relevant, aspirational,” Mr. Reyes says.
Mike Burns, managing partner of the Burns Group, says that those who drink Yellow Tail “love wine,” but find it daunting that there are “over 5,000 product labels to choose from.”
The goal is to make the brand “the spine of their purchasing behavior,” Mr. Burns says, a brand that “should always be” in their refrigerators or on their shelves.
By declaring Yellow Tail to be “The go-to,” the brand is “trying to own ‘occasionality,’ ” he adds, the concept that it is “the wine that’s right for any moment.”
The campaign tries to convey that the brand “is absolutely the confident choice” for “people who are unpretentious and fun-loving,” Mr. Burns says, through the use of signature Yellow Tail elements like the kangaroo and the colors that appear on the bottle labels.
Mr. Reyes approves of the agency’s approach.
“This notion of occasions, it’s a business-building strategy, especially in a category that’s so fragmented,” he says
If each person who buys Yellow Tail bought it “one more time, that would represent 10 percent growth,” he adds.
The first two commercials in the campaign are fast-paced, meant to communicate energy and vibrancy. Each is composed of vignettes that show consumers enjoying themselves, and Yellow Tail, in situations like a backyard barbecue, a relaxed summer Friday, a house party, a card game, at the beach and on a date.
In both commercials, voices are heard saying “Never the wrong time for the right wine,” “I’ll have the Yellow Tail” and “I just love that kangaroo.” The spots end with a voice that says: “Yellow Tail. The go-to.”
The voices all have a reverberating, echo effect reminiscent of the voice saying “How do I look?” in the electro-music track “Une Very Stylish Fille” by the artist known as Dimitri From Paris.
The music heard in the Yellow Tail spots is from around the same period. It is called “Yachts (A Man Called Adam Mix).” The commercials were produced by the production company Logan, based in Los Angeles and New York.
The media agency for Yellow Tail, MPG in New York, part of the Havas Media unit of Havas, has developed plans for the campaign to reach 180 million adults, Mr. Burns says, compared with 100 million for the current campaign.
The commercials will run on broadcast networks and cable channels and are to appear more often in late-night time slots than previous Yellow Tail spots.
The late-night slots include programs on Comedy Central; “Conan,” with Conan O’Brien, on TBS; “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” on ABC; “The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson,” on CBS; “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” on NBC; and “Saturday Night Live,” also on NBC.
Among the other television venues for the campaign, Mr. Reyes lists A&E, BBC America, Bravo, Food Network, FX, E!, HGTV, IFC, Style, TLC and USA.
There will also be a presence for the campaign on Web sites like nbc.com and YouTube.