NFTs, augmented reality and space drive Penfolds luxury brand approach

Wine brand's chief marketing officer talks through the new global brand thematic and the innovative engagement mechanisms being used in its ambition to become a luxury brand icon with appear to younger consumers

NFTs and augmented reality are becoming an increasingly important part of the engagement arsenal as Penfolds looks to cement its luxury brand status and attract younger consumers, its marketing chief says.

Penfolds debuted a new global theme and omni-channel brand approach this month aimed at becoming a global luxury icon. The new territory and thematic, ‘Venture beyond’, orients around the world of space exploration to highlight the brand’s innovative spirit. Creative was designed by Australian illustrator, Jason Solo, and uses intricate detail paired with striking colour palettes and dynamism.  

The new theme is being supported by experiential activations, packaging, new point-of-sale, digital and events. 

“We want to transcend the wine category, which means being much more in tune with the broader luxury category and our role within it,” Penfolds chief marketing officer, Kristy Keyte, told CMO. “We know that the luxury category and the rules to play by have changed over the last five years. It’s now less about status and exclusiveness and more about hype, disruptiveness, providing inspiration and being culture led.  

“Our thematic of ‘Venture beyond’ provides us with a global platform to authentically talk to our Penfolds DNA - our pioneering spirit and our zest for pushing the boundaries of exploration – to venture beyond, and to do it in the context of culture.”  

Keyte said the new brand theme takes several cues from Penfolds’ ‘Meet Extraordinary’ communications platform launched in 2020. However, it’s designed to evolve the 178-year-old brand into a more emotive space with a strong link back to its positioning of “unwavering self-belief”.  

“One of our earliest recorded taglines that we often reference, is '1844 to evermore'. Our journey has always been this. Brave. Fearless. Optimistic and anchored in self-belief. We explore, pioneer and venture 'above terroir' and beyond,” Keyte continued.  

“So, when you think about it, space exploration and what it represents in terms of discovering the unknown felt like a very relevant space to pursue - pardon the pun - but also a highly relevant cultural reference for the world as we continue to push ourselves as a human race.”  

Recruitment is priority number one for Penfolds, and the new theme is squarely pitched at consumers that have both a close and loose connection to the wine category but enjoy wine and aspire to a luxury lifestyle.   

“It is fair to say we are very focused on ensuring we are growing relevance with a younger consumer across the globe in order to continue our strong growth trajectory.  We see our new thematic playing a big role here,” Keyte said.  

Credit: Penfolds

This can also be seen in Penfolds’ investment into emerging technologies such as the metaverse and augmented reality (AR). From late April, Penfolds will launch a personalised gifting experience, using AR to allow consumers to send a personalised message with their gift. Each limited-edition product gift box will feature a QR code linking to the AR experience.  

Keyte said the platform will provide consumers the ability to create and attach a virtual personalised message to their Penfolds wine or follow links to view Penfolds content.  

“This type of activation comes from our insights that gifting is a recruitment driver into luxury wine – it’s a most definitely a key growth driver,” she said.  

Read more: 5 great examples of augmented reality in marketing

The brand also launched its first NFT launch in collaboration with Blockbar, chalking up a US$130,000 Barrel of Magill Cellar 3 wine, then followed it up with 300 NFTs valued at US$480 as part of the new gifting platform. Both of these sold out in record time, the former in 12 seconds and the latter in 10 hours.  

Keyte hinted a new approach to the way the brand goes about content as well as an engaging and new way of bringing experiences to life are also on their way. In addition, a number of other steps are being taken to build Penfolds’ position as a global luxury icon such as partnerships, both brand and people based.   

“We have had some success with this in the past, but we will be looking to ramp this up significantly over the next 12-18 months,” Keyte said. “Not only does this help us reach new audiences, but it allows us to position Penfolds within culture in a very real and authentic way.”  

In terms of measuring success, Keyte noted traditional measures around brand health globally will be reviewed closely, particularly imagery statements but also general awareness among younger consumers.  

“This will give us a good read on long term brand success,” he said. “Naturally, recruitment is at the top of the agenda for us on this one, so understanding the success of this through our customer network but also our first-party data will be critical to understanding how we are tracking.”  

Read more: 15 brands jumping into NFTs

Changing marketing perceptions  

Having been in marketing for Penfolds parent company, Treasury Wine Estates, for the past 10 years and Diageo prior to that, Keyte has had plenty of experience of how alcohol brands have needed to shift their brand approach.  

She’s a firm believer that all brands should be focusing on recruitment right now.  

“The wine category has a job to do to ensure that it stays relevant with a younger consumer:  Things like sustainability, how we show up in the digital landscape [ecommerce] and thinking about how to evolve beyond how things have been for the last decade,” she commented. “There are lots of trends to grab hold of and own as brands.”  

Key to achieving this is culture, Keyte said, and she flagged team building as a key element of her approach since becoming Penfolds CMO nine months ago.  

“We have such an amazing group of marketers working on Penfolds across all of our key markets from Australia to South East Asia, China, Europe and the US. We are working together to really lift the way that we show up for consumers,” Keyte said.  

“To achieve our vision, we need to be consistent and we need to show up as a luxury brand at all touchpoints.  Beyond this, we are embedding a luxury mindset and one that reflects Penfolds itself – pioneering, innovative and forward thinking.”  

Credit: Penfolds

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