Country Branding – The Wine as the Messenger
When discussing the world’s top wine tourism destinations and finest wines, it is the celebrated regions of France, Italy and Spain in Europe or Napa in California that have historically been most respected. What are the chances and possibilities for a small country like Hungary to direct attention to its wine regions and wines, to establish a good reputation and a strong international presence on the world (tourism) market?
In my presentation I would like to outline the history, the background and the results of a very special co-operation ─ a project developed with Vinum Tokaj International LLC.
Together, we directed attention to Hungary and what the country has to offer to the international wine connoisseurs, the professional North American wine buyer and all those who are committed to discover the world through exciting sites, culture, history and outstanding wines.
I will discuss how we focused on select target groups, and how we reinforced our existing contacts and developed new channels to promote Hungary’s wines and wine regions.
We put Furmint, the indigenous Hungarian variety, in the spotlight and launched a campaign to promote the “Year of Furmint.” The project included editorial content about the Hungarian viticultural and wine making tradition, and the history behind the country’s wine regions. We successfully put Furmint on the map as top-of-mind for wine buyers, adding Hungary’s presence to U.S. wine lists and educating our readers about Hungarian wines.
Through strategic marketing, we introduced programs such as our “Furmint Ambassador” series, and an on-going “Traveling Hungary” column in cooperation with the Hungarian Tourism Agency ─ and were able to influence a new wave of visitors to Hungary.
As a practical part I would show some of the high profile cover stories, the educational display ADs with “Did You Know” facts about the Tokaj Wine Region and its wines, the lectures delivered at different events (SOMM Con, Society of Wine Educators, SOMM Summit) and how we linked wine to wine tourism and country branding. In addition, how we reached an unprecedented success thanks to Hungary’s long-reaching campaign that helped increase circulation for our publications.
In conclusion, I will explain the path we took during our first year in this endeavor to have strong support from the wine-buying trade including a Las Vegas Restaurant Wine Director who declared, “I have never experienced such a strong, continuous and focused presence of Hungary and the Hungarian wines promotion in the U.S. so far.”
Now: what is needed in order to keep and continue this impressive attention directed to the country? I believe a continuation to not only talk to the gate-keepers: the wine-buying decision makers, but also in using their voices and testimonials for marketing and promotion. Acting as the “authority” for the wine industry in the U.S., we can deliver unique campaigns to attract more and more visitors to Hungary and make sure Hungarian wines maintain a world-class presence.