Filling a Void, Hoffman/Lewis Wins Rodney Strong Vineyards Account

Hoffman/Lewis here has been awarded the estimated $1-2 million account of Rodney Strong Vineyards, Healdsburg, Calif. The winery had conducted a quiet review that included several undisclosed West Coast shops.
The agency will be responsible for producing a nationwide print campaign, Rodney Strong’s first heavy advertising outside of trade magazines. Ads will appear in publications such as Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Sunset, and The New Yorker, beginning in early 1998.
“We are seeking a more upscale wine consumer,” said Dan Wildermuth, vice president and director of marketing for Rodney Strong. “These are people, typically aged 35-65, who are educated about wine and don’t mind spending $14 per bottle.”
A “heavy emphasis” will be placed on New England and the West Coast, the two regions where Rodney Strong has the highest distribution, Wildermuth said.
The account win fills a void for Hoffman/Lewis in the alcoholic beverage category. Former client Heublein Wines Group changed its name to IDV Wines and consolidated its wine brands at J. Walter Thompson, San Francisco, last summer. Hoffman/Lewis had handled Heublein’s Glen Ellen Wines brand for several years.
“We were sad to see that brand go because of the consolidation,” said agency principal Roger Lewis, adding that he and co-principal Bob Hoffman were “very interested” in finding a new client in the category. Hoffman/Lewis recently participated in the review for Scottish & Newcastle Importer’s beer account, but the estimated $2-4 million business was awarded to Butler, Shine & Stern, Sausalito, Calif., in August.
Sources said Hoffman/Lewis was a latecomer to the Rodney Strong review, becoming a contender only after the shop’s general manager, Josh Nichol, asked the winery to be included in the ongoing search. The agency was chosen soon after entering the process, sources said.
“We were extremely impressed by the professional attitude and appearance of Hoffman/Lewis,” Wildermuth said. “They just came in and blew us away. We’re excited about the work they’re going to do with us.”
Prior to hiring Hoffman/Lewis, Rodney Strong had worked with Bigelow & Partners, a now-defunct Bay Area agency. The shop created trade magazine ads that the winery continues to use.