It’s no secret that the wine trade has been hard hit by the U.S. public health crisis, especially in the hospitality and on-premise channels. Thankfully, people quickly began drinking more wine at home and this helped keep volume moving as wine consumption at restaurants screeched to a halt.

Our work on behalf of wine clients tends to be experientially based (think staff trainings, in-store events and tastings), so most of our plans seemed to vanish overnight. As soon as stay-home orders went into effect across the country, we knew we had to move quickly to redirect our resources and activations for at least a few months, and do so mindfully. Here are some key learnings we gleaned from doing an about-face with a large, multi-state integrated marketing campaign in a matter of days:

We quickly realized that changing strategies, moving budgets and coming up with new ideas needed to focus on a core concept: serving others in a way that provided value to stakeholders — as defined by their new reality. Achieving client needs would naturally follow. Our work with wine trade had always revolved around supporting their business goals and it was clear that any solutions for replacing the many canceled activities needed to help improve the results of whatever direction the trade were taking, as dictated by the crisis they were facing.

Thus, trusting our partners was fundamental. We had to adjust as they were adjusting. Some of the wine trade we work with knew exactly what they were going to do, while others were still figuring it out. We had to be able to go with the flow and know that our trade partners’ decisions (and our buy-in to those decisions) would lead us to the right place for success all around. Having strong relationships with trade we had partnered with over time certainly made this easier — an unexpected and welcomed pay off on our long-standing choice to avoid “one-off” marketing activations and partnerships in the wine trade channels.

Being nimble was vital and we were glad to have built up our client’s trust over the years, which allowed us to make quick decisions, even if they were in new territory for us (hello Public Enemy Instagram Live!). In a matter of days, we reconceptualized and/or created new programs for smartly crafted consumer education-focused digital advertising, co-hosted tastings via social media, and awesome infographic development. We also dove into the virtual tasting space headfirst and developed best practices and guidelines for something we had rarely done before (and, before March, had barely been done by anyone period), switched up the tone and content on all our outgoing omni-channel communication, while developing brand new creative assets for our partners to use that spoke to how our wines were the perfect home companions. All of these paths laddered up to the new reality of how wine was now being bought and sold.  In other words, it was an intense few days!

What interesting and successful pivots have your brands made during the past couple months? I’d love to hear about them here.