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Wines from Rioja ‘Tapas Fantasticas’ PR campaign

Wines from Rioja ‘Tapas Fantasticas’ PR campaign

Best practice from Phipps PR.


Wine Intelligence research carried out in 2006 showed that people who drink Rioja tend to be male and over 35 and Rioja wines are thought of as red and full-bodied, when in fact, they are hugely varied.

Wine body Wines from Rioja asked Phipps PR to help it get a younger and broader range of consumers excited about Rioja and educate them about the variety of wines from the region while repeating the success of the first event in 2008.

The team’s objectives were:
• Raise awareness of wines from Rioja
• Create an authentic Riojan experience including sampling
 Drive consumers to the Wines from Rioja website.


Like most generic wine bodies and larger wine brands, Wines from Rioja uses consumer sampling to get consumers excited about its wines. Its 2007 sampling programme had involved exhibiting at food and wine events throughout the UK including the Taste Festivals, The Wine Show London and the BBC Good Food Shows.

However, this had not done the wines justice, since branding was restricted, visitors were not necessarily consistent with the target audience, the opportunity to offer a true experience of Rioja was limited and the presence of many other wine brands, including Wines from Spain which showed many Rioja wines itself, was distracting.

Phipps decided to break away from the traditional model of sampling at established events. The team came up with the idea of creating a wine industry first: a food and drink summer festival in central London for a young target audience of ABC1 men and women aged 25-44.

As well as showing off the wines, and communicating the message that the wines of Rioja are as varied as the region itself, this would give consumers a true Riojan experience by partnering the wines with tapas; interest in Spanish cuisine has rocketed in recent years.

And so Tapas Fantasticas 2008 was born: a free, two-day, open-air, family-friendly event with delicious tapas and a full range of wines from Rioja. The event was so successful that Wines from Rioja asked Phipps PR to repeat the event this year plus take it to Manchester.


A strategic advertising and editorial partnership was developed with Time Out London and Manchester Evening News, chosen for their target readership of Londoners aged 18-34 and Mancunians aged 25-34, with high disposable income and a total circulation of 228,922.

Pre-event promotion also included:
• 800 posters with details of Tapas Fantasticas posted around London and Manchester
• 30,000 flyers were also distributed in the streets around Brick Lane in London and Albert Square in Manchester and to local cafés, bars and galleries
• A Facebook and Twitter page was created with information about the event, and regular updates were sent to ‘friends’ and ‘followers’
• Phipps created a Tapas Fantasticas microsite  (

Four wine seminars were planned for each day of the event with experts Olly Smith and Susy Atkins. Details of the seminars and how to register were highlighted on the Tapas Fantasticas web page and also in the Time Out/Manchester Evening News pre-event coverage. Thirty places at each seminar were reserved for Time Out/Manchester Evening News readers which was highlighted in an e-mailer sent to their database of readers.


Extensive press and online coverage included 19 pieces of national and regional print coverage, including The Times, Metro, Evening Standard, Manchester Evening News, London Paper and Shortlist and 47 pieces of online coverage, including: Guardian Unlimited, Visit London, the Londonist, Manchester Evening News online, Time Out and Love Food Love Drink.

The event was also covered on ITV London Tonight and Channel M. The coverage on London Tonight is almost unprecedented for a wine campaign.

Every piece of coverage was 100% positive, communicated the key messages, and often included a wider look at Rioja’s wines. The campaign reached over 52 million people via print, web and broadcast. A Spanish broadcaster also picked up on the festival.

A huge rise in traffic to the website spiked to over 32,000 unique users the week before the London event and over 12,000 in the week before the Manchester event.

In total, over 16,500 people attended the festival, and a large proportion of the audience was younger than the traditional Rioja drinker.

Wine writer for The Mail on Sunday Live magazine and broadcaster Olly Smith said: “Huzzah! Big thanks Phipps - you totally rock and I would love to do it again next year. Fantastic effort to show that Rioja truly rocks and get the public excited about the magnificence and diversity of Spain's flagship region.”

Susy Atkins, wine writer for The Sunday Telegraph Stella magazine and broadcaster said: “I really enjoyed Tapas Fantasticas again this year, the guests seemed so nice and earnest with bags of questions, yet knowledgeable about wine and keen to learn”.

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