Innovative Branding: Wine Tasting and Concierge Mixer at the Wrigley Mansion

In July I attended a Wine Tasting and Concierge Mixer held at the Wrigley Mansion.  The featured winery was Arizona Stronghold.  I received an email with the event details, I quickly scanned the email and noticed two things:  Free and Wrigley Mansion.  Sounds great!  The day of the event I just wanted to make sure of the time so I quickly googled the event.  Nothing came up…I went on the Wrigley website and checked out the calendar.  Nothing.  Finally I logged in and checked my email, and as I had previously thought it said 4pm.  I always double check these things.

I arrived at the mansion and was greeted by the friendly staff who directed me to the wine event.  Once there I checked in at the greeter station and picked up a name tag.  A quick glance around

Jeff Hecht

the room and I started to recognize people, some of whom I have never met!  How is that possible?  Twitter.  Most people have a picture of their face as an avatar, which is very helpful in situations like this.  I started out with a conversation with Molly Maguth.  She coordinated the event and is a public relations account manager for MMA advertising, a premier metro phoenix advertising and PR agency.  The pieces of the puzzle started to fall together.  MMA handles the Wrigley account as well as the Arizona Stronghold account.  I found the idea to piggyback the two clients into one event to be very interesting.  The even more interesting thing was the very deliberate selection of guests.  I had a chance to ask Ms. Maguth and Jeff Hecht, director of public relations for MMA about the reasoning behind the selection process.  They explained that everyone that had been invited was either a Concierge at a metro Phoenix resort style hotel, or a prominent member of local social media.  So what was I doing there I wondered!  Then it hit me.  After 8 months of wine blogging, the Weekly Wine Journal might have actually crossed the relevance threshold!

Back to the guests…  every year millions of people visit the Valley of the Sun.  And some of these people stay at wonderful resort style hotels complete with a full time concierge.  The concierge deals directly with the public, often answering questions about the local community and giving recommendations on where to eat and where to visit. They are influencers in every sense of the word.  The second angle on the guest list was the local social media influencers.  I have written about the power of social media over at corkd.com as well.

This event was a great case study in guest selection.  Although I wasn’t able to meet all the guests I did run into the following Twitter personalities:

@AZVineyardGuy, @AZWineries, @AZVinesandWines @Noshtopia – also known as @skinnyjeans, @CChaserun @ReneeMoorePR

Just these personalities alone have a combined 50,000+ followers on Twitter ( Stephanie @skinnyjeans is responsible for at least 48,000 of them) but Twitter is not  only about how many followers you have, it’s also about your influence.  @AZVineyardGuy, Josh Moffit is Arizona’s go to guy for vineyard real estate and has over 2,500 acres of land in his portfolio.

Josh Moffit

His lovely wife, Rhonni Moffit ( @AZWineries and @AZVinesandWines) is the executive director of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.  @CChaserun is Colleen Chase, and she runs a joint venture wine tour company with her sister called Arizona Grape Escapes.

Collen Chase

They take up to a dozen people on Arizona wine country tours every weekend.  @SkinnyJeans is Stephanie Quilao.  She is a professional blogger and has really taken it to the next level with her Noshtopia website.  Renee Moore is in PR as you might have guessed from her Twitter handle, @ReneeMoorePR.

This event was the best wine tasting I’ve been to.  I’ve been to a few, and I thought this was so well coordinated in terms of the guests, the setting and the wine.  I noticed that all the wines were being taken care of in terms of proper serving temperature.

Nice work keeping the wines cool!

Arizona is very hot and my pet peeve is people serving red wine at room temperature in Arizona, so I thought that attention to quality control and detail was very refreshing.  Secondly the guests were extremely engaging.  We would have stayed all night talking!  Right now MMA has no plans to handle other wine accounts as they want to focus solely on the Arizona Stronghold brand.  However, they do handle other accounts, large accounts such as The Mayo Clinic, Harkins Theatres and Desert Schools Credit Union.  MMA has a combined 70 years experience in Advertising branding and PR in just it’s 3 principals.  They really know there stuff, and especially the new media way of doing things.  They get social media, they get viral marketing.  It was exciting to be a part of this event, and I am looking forward to future events by MMA and Arizona Stronghold.

What say you?  Branding and PR, have you seen good/bad examples?  Is marketing and branding a wine different from say branding a potato chip?  What do you think of social media’s role in branding?

go ahead, don’t be afraid…comment! 🙂 If I missed anyone out please let me know, I will add them

Molly Maguth on Twitter
Jeff Hecht on Twitter
MMA Homepage
Wrigley Mansion Homepage
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards homepage

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