this year, I enjoyed one of my favorite pastimes being a spectator
at major league baseballs spring training. I love the sport,
the psychology of the game, and the unique role each team member has.
The number one fact in baseball is that games are won and lost
by teams. When the New York Yankees won the World Series in 1999,
it was truly a team effort. Each player on the team made a contribution
to the final winning outcome. Whenever I watch a baseball game,
Im always reminded of the many similarities between the
game and creative marketing.
In baseball, when every member of the team does his job
from the manager to the coaches and the players the game
goes like magic. In the same way, a working team is the key to
any successful creative marketing venture. Nothing is more productive
and powerful than a team management, marketing, design,
and production working with creative synergy, sharing common
Teamwork allows for gathering of many ideas to produce one. It
encourages joint ownership of the creative idea and allows the
various disciplines to address all aspects of the creative process
and resolve all issues. It is a highly effective weapon.
Understand the objective
Being a member of a creative marketing team can be a real adventure.
The fun part is that nobody on the team really knows where the
creative process will take them. The only given at the outset
in development of a product or new package promotion is the creative
direction that supports a predetermined marketing objective. Good
marketing will help inform the creative process by giving a clear
indication of what the weather conditions are within
a specific market, including a breakdown of a specific audience
and a real target to aim at. Thats really important stuff.
Its important to understand that background information is necessary
whether your team is pulled together from internal or external resources,
or a combination of both. At Robert Mondavi Winery, nearly every major
brand promotion and package design project is championed by teams
of people from inside and outside the company.
In some cases, team members are even recruited from outside the
wine industry. Therefore, we have to begin with an education process.
But providing industry knowledge is more than simply educating
those team members its a way to build relationships
within the team itself.
As the client, its our responsibility to make sure these
team members know and clearly understand: the projects scope,
including an accurate historical overview of the brand; the brands
sales and past, current, and future goals; the brands market
position and marketing category; brand awareness the brands
icon value; past marketing efforts (what worked, what didnt,
and why), and who is the competition. We must also give them a
realistic timeline to get the job done.
The better this background information, the better the team will
do its job. The success of a project depends upon how this information
is used by the team members and how well they communicate with
You cant begin to develop a package design or a product
promotion until there is a clear understanding of the programs
marketing objective, its desired goal, and its position. The success
of the new product or promotion rests on being able to justify
it using these points.
You must be able to define your brand; know whos buying
it; know your competition; and be prepared to put yourself in
your customers shoes. You need more than a demographic understanding
of who these customers are. Try to become your customers. Once
you understand what makes them react to your product, finding
solutions to address their needs will become easier.
Know what to expect from your brand. How big is it? How big can it
realistically get? Understand quality versus price. Know your selling
environments. Look to other areas to identify how your brand fits
in the marketplace. Before you can put a jigsaw puzzle together, you
must lay out all the pieces to figure out where to start. Creativity
opens your mind to the countless possibilities that are waiting to
Communicate one message
Good creativity relies on good marketing.
True synergy occurs when your products message is communicated
effectively through a variety of mediums. All the parts and pieces
must be integrated for maximum impact. Understand that a package
design, the in-store point-of-sale materials, the marketing and
sales brochures, and the advertising must all fit together to
look, feel, and communicate one message.
A well-integrated program will reduce the odds of failure. Integration
creates a climate of synergy that allows each piece of the program
to work off of the others, thus ensuring a more powerful product
For example, the marketing position for Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi
is based on one simple message: Choosing a bottle of good
wine doesnt have to be the biggest decision of your life.
We know, through research, that the novice wine consumer can find
buying wine a very intimidating experience. With that in mind,
the Woodbridge brand attempts to overcome the consumers
fear through a series of promotional vehicles that convey this
one simple message (see sidebar), including print, TV, and radio
ads, POS materials, case cards, and neckers.
All work together to reinforce the Woodbrige brand position. Why
Woodbridge? Simple: Its the perfect wine for any occasion!
Believe in creativity
Just like the folks on Star Trek, I believe, to be really creative,
you have to venture where no one has gone before. That means you
must go beyond the obvious and start where the competition stopped.
The obvious is usually a good place to begin a creative discussion,
but its just the first hurdle every team will encounter
in the creative process. So its vital to get beyond it quickly
dont look back, just move forward.
Its important to have faith in your own creativity. It takes
time to build the confidence to believe that what you see as creative
is just that. A free mind is a free spirit, and a free spirit
Its also important to see with your ears and hear with your
eyes. Using your sense of sight and hearing to justify a creative
position can mean the difference between a promotion that looks
great and one that looks great with a future. Looking and listening
are some of our most powerful resources.
The words I most often hear when people are trying to justify
a creative direction are It feels right or
My gut instinct tells me its right. Well, what
are these feelings of right and gut instinct?
I believe they are your experience talking. Gut instinct really represents
more than just a hunch. Its the actual foundation that creativity
is built on. Its the one gift we all possess the ability
to take verbal and visual information that we hear and observe
and turn it into a message of communication.
Take creative risks
You must also take some creative risks. Taking risks is a way
to earn the respect of other team members, the target audience,
and the industry. Its a way to let them know that you would
not be putting yourself in this position if you did not truly
believe in your own creativity. The key here is to justify it
against what you hear, see, and feel. Another off-shoot of risk-taking
is shadow-casting. Shadow-casting happens when a package or promotion
enters a market and overshadows the category leaders through unique
design and positioning. It requires taking even bigger risks,
because your team must develop creative materials that are unique
and that go against the category grain.
Shadow-casting seems to work best for companies that want to break
into established markets by creating a big bang on a small budget.
Although its a risky venture, when it works, it can sometimes
create a proprietary product position. Lets look at some promotional
examples of the creative process guided by teams that took some risks
to create a proprietary market position and at the same time stay
on the leading edge of creativity and the wine industry itself.
Bonterra Wines nurtured
When it introduced Bonterra in 1992, Fetzer Vineyards saw the
wine as an opportunity for future growth. The wine itself was
made from 100% organically grown grapes, and the natural foods
market was steadily growing. No other winery with national distribution
had a wine like it. All marketing data showed the timing was good
and a target audience was already in place. Unfortunately, initial
sales were nothing to brag about. In fact they barely made a blip
on the charts. What happened?
With the initial release, Fetzer created a typical package and
positioned the wine as earth-friendly, targeting an audience that
really consumed very little wine.
Up to this point an organic marketing position and the package
design were driving this brand, but the package had no real message.
This was a big problem that needed a big solution, and the answer
was right in front of them all the time. Fetzer was in the wine
business, not the natural foods business.
The key was to create a new position for this brand: Bonterra
A great wine that happens to be made from organically-grown
grapes, grapes grown in a natural environment. When it comes
to making wine, quality begins with the fruit. As a result of
the natural growing methods, the grapes harvested for Bonterra
were particularly high quality. This new marketing strategy focused
on high-end, trendy restaurants as the primary market target and
made the natural foods market secondary.
The thinking behind this unique wine had to produce a unique package.
After a thorough review of the product the grapes, the
winemaker, how the wine is made a creative direction was
developed that embraced the very essence of Bonterra. The message
was clearly identified Bonterra is a natural, hand-crafted
wine of great quality. The key to package design was to
provide a look and feel that walked the talk while it educated
the target audience. In order to do this, imagery had to play
an important role.
The design team began by exploring the possibility of using recycled
paper for the wine label. In researching this effort, the creative
team found a small group of commercial paper producers that were
making treeless paper from sugar, seaweed, and Kannaf, a plant
grown only for the creation of paper. The choice of Kannaf paper
for the Bonterra label created a whole new dimension for this
This same thinking was applied to the bottle. How about using
recycled glass? The glass producers at first said it couldnt
be done. But Fetzer shared the risk, and the antique green glass
bottle was produced from 40% recycled glass. The closure was simple
natural bees wax.
A series of point-of-sale and marketing materials were developed
to support the new brand position and educate consumers. Using
the same treeless papers with soy-based inks, each of these sales
tools told the Bonterra story in a natural, handcrafted, high-end
The beauty of this creative effort was that Bonterra had a much bigger
story to tell as a result. Fetzer created a public relations story
that encompassed the wine, its packaging, and the companys commitment
to protecting the earths natural resources.
Robert Mondavi, along with its Italian partners the Frescobaldi
family, recently introduced Danzante to the domestic market. Its
a new brand of Italian wines priced in the $10 to $12 range. Our
creative team took some risks to create a proprietary market position
and at the same time stay on the leading edge of creativity and
the wine industry itself.
Our Italian partners felt that the wines package design
should be based on a traditional look and feel very simple
and somewhat understated. Although tradition played a major role
in the package design development, the brands market position
was far from traditional. We agreed to target this brand at a
younger audience, 25 to 35 years of age.
The wine was named Danzante, which translates as dance
or dancing. The creative marketing team developed
a brand position of selling tradition in a non-traditional way.
Using the dance theme as a keystone for this brand, all promotional
pieces were developed to capture the energy of dance and movement.
We created an energetic theme line: Gotta Danzante
short, sweet, and youthful. All of these materials were
created first to capture the excitement behind Danzante, and then
also to give it a priority look and feel. Distributor kick-off
meetings included dance troupes as well as a video of a young
man dancing with energy and excitement that sets the tone for
the brand by encompassing the essence of Danzante.
All of these promotional pieces give tradition a contemporary
youthful look of energy.
Creativity always begins with a question. The quality of your
creativity depends on the quality of your questions. The only
dumb question is the one you dont ask. The questioning process
really becomes the adventure itself. You really dont care
as much about the solution. Whatever the solution, the process
will be a learning experience. You may begin looking to find red
only to learn that what really works is blue.
The unique thing about asking questions is that one question usually
leads to another and another and so on. Asking questions can be
a rewarding journey of discovery. In addition, questions have
a way of uncovering the logic necessary to justify a creative
idea. So, what is a question? Here are some things to think about:
A question has no end or beginning. It is:
An opening to creation
An invitation to creativity
The beginning to an adventure
A point of departure
An answer in disguise.
If you look at creative solutions around you, chances are each one
started as a problem that was revealed by a question. Sometimes this
need to ask why leads to breaking tradition.
Break with tradition
As an Old World tradition, wine has been packaged in a glass bottle
with a cork stopper for hundreds of years. The foil capsule covering
the opening and neck of the bottle came about as a protective
device to deter rats from eating corks in bottled wines in French
cellars over 300 years ago.
Robert Mondavi, being an industry visionary, asked why virtually
every wine in the world was still being bottled the same way.
To his surprise, no one could give him an answer, other than,
Thats the way its always been done. Robert
Mondavis answer was even simpler there needs to be
a change. He said its the right thing to do, and it will
be good for the industry, the environment, and the company.
As a company, Robert Mondavi has always been very sensitive to
environmental issues and has taken a leadership role in the wine
industry to promote organic farming, recycling, and reduction
of material waste. So in keeping with the company philosophy based
on natural solutions, Robert Mondavi embarked on a quest to reinvent
wine packaging. The result was introduction of the flange-type
bottle with a C-cap seal.
This was a bold step, considering that such a move, if it failed,
had the potential to ruin the company and its products. But the
even bigger issue was that the wine industry needed something
fresh to hang its hat on. Hence this revolution in packaging moved
forward and is still with us today.
Dont kill creativity
Usually in marketing, things go from bad to worse when someone
takes it upon himself to ruin a great idea and kill the creative
process. I honestly dont think this is intentional; it just
happens for a variety of reasons. For example, I cant tell
you how many times people come up with a solution before they
have identified the problem.
I refer to this as a vision without a plan. This type of solution
usually raises its ugly head early in a creative discussion. Someone
acknowledges: What a great idea! Someone else says,
That was easy, and the meeting ends shortly thereafter.
Thats when the problems really start.
Author Harvey McKay compiled a list of ways to kill creativity.
Here are 10 from his list:
10. Its not in the budget.
9. It will never work.
8. They will never go for it.
7. The competition doesnt do it that way, why
should we take that risk.
6. Why mess with it, it already works.
5. Its too late to fix it.
4. It will create more work for everyone.
3. We tried that five years ago, and it didnt
2. Thats not how we do things around here.
1. Sounds like a good idea, lets run it by legal.
Its important to remember that the success of creative marketing
is based on every team members agreement to keep an open
mind and be willing to take a certain amount of risk.
Failure can be good
You cant learn to walk without falling down. The process
of creativity is based on failure. Its OK to fail, in fact,
I encourage it. As a team member, whenever Im faced with
coming up with a new promotion, my initial goal is to break new
I know we are going to have to take some risks, and I encourage
the other members of the creative team to do just that. Sometimes
when we screw up, especially in the beginning, we get a rare opportunity
to experience areas of creativity that would be missed if we played
it safe. Remember: being creative is an adventure. You have to
experience failure if youre going to be successful.
Experience its our greatest teacher. If you dont
believe me just ask Michael Jordan he was cut from his
high school basketball team or Walt Disney he was
once fired from a job for not being creative enough or
the legendary Babe Ruth he holds the record for most strikeouts
by a major league ballplayer.
What are the key elements of success for working as a team?
Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the objective,
position, and goals.
Be prepared to take some risks.
Rely on your gut instinct when making a decision.
Its OK to fall down before you walk.
Remember, a team working together can produce magical results.
Being creative requires truly believing in yourself. Creativity
is really an attitude: how you approach it is sometimes more important
than its outcome.
Edited from a presentation to the Third Annual Global
WINE Package Design and Marketing Conference, March 2324, 2000,
in San Francisco, CA, produced by Murray J. Lubliner Associates.