Grey Adds Wine Biz

Grey’s 17-year relationship with Olive Garden enabled the agency to reap E&J Gallo Winery’s imported wines account without a review, the agency said.

A division of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Res taurants, Olive Garden serves Gallo wines in its 490 Italian restaurants in the U.S.

On the recommendation of Olive Garden executives, Grey began doing project work in 2000 for Gallo’s Bella Sera brand.

The account includes that Italian import, as well as McWilliams Hanwood Estates and Black Swan, both from Australia. The shop’s True Grey division, which does Olive Garden’s advertising, will handle the Gallo business, said Grey New York president Steve Blamer. There was no incumbent.

“It’s validation of what having strong client relationships can lead to,” Blamer said of the win.

E&J Gallo is based in Modesto, Calif., and spent about $30 million on media in the first 10 months of 2002, according to CMR, which does not break out spending for the international wines division. Sources estimated media spending at $12-15 million for those brands.

Gallo’s vp of marketing Gerry Glasgow declined comment on spending, but said of Grey: “We were impressed with the work they did with Olive Garden: Being able to capture in a restaurant dining experience what the Italian culture could mean to Americans. We thought they could do the same for us with a brand of wine.”

National TV and radio spots for Bella Sera have been running since last year and Black Swan ads will break nationally in March, Glasgow said. The tagline will be, “Awaken your sense of adventure. Discover Black Swan Schiraz.”