19 Crimes taps ‘criminal’ past to reach male wine drinkers

November 19, 2013  |  Rebecca Harris  |  Comments

Australian wine brand 19 Crimes is playing up its rogue past to tap into the growing interest in wine among millennial males.

The brand, owned by Toronto-based Treasury Wine Estates, gets it name from a list of 19 crimes that sent British felons off to the penal colony in Australia. The labels bear the mug shots and true stories of convicts who were handed the sentence of “punishment by transportation,” rather than death.

The idea for the “bad boy” brand story was born from the history of wine producer Bailey’s of Glenrowan in Victoria, Australia. The winery is linked to the notorious Australia “bushranger” Ned Kelly, who reportedly worked there as a silver smith.

“Whether you’re just starting out as a wine drinker or not, an authentic story that ties the brand to where it comes from always resonates [with consumers],” said Sylvie Levesque, VP consumer marketing at Treasury Wine Estates.

To reach the young male demographic, 19 Crimes launched an irreverent social media campaign, starting off with a gangster-inspired video by Giants & Gentlemen called “How to braise a lamb shank and get Mickey to tell you where the goddam money is.”

The video, which has more than 180,000 views on YouTube, is part of a larger “Good Advice from Bad Guys” social media positioning. On Twitter, for example, @19Crimes features such sage advice as “Keep your trap shut when chewing. And in general.”

The story of the winery’s past is also told on the brand’s website and Facebook page, which have the full list of 19 crimes that sent felons to Australia (i.e. #5: impersonating an Egyptian).

“The idea is you can be sophisticated, but you don’t need to lose your edge,” said Levesque. “It’s about not making wine too pretentious, but thinking about wine as being fun and not taking itself too seriously.”

19 Crimes is also aiming to resonate with millennial males through a partnership with menswear retailer GotStyle. Neck tags on the wine bottles have an offer for 50% off a first purchase at GotStyle as well as the advice “Dress to kill, even if you’re not doing that tonight.” GotStyle also gets a nod in the lamb shank video for providing the characters’ clothing.

19 Crimes debuted in 2011, but the release was limited due to very low quantities of the wine. With an abundant 2012 vintage, 19 Crimes was able to go full steam ahead on the marketing front. Treasury Wine Estates also recently received confirmation that the wine will sold in Ontario’s LCBO and Quebec’s SAQ this spring.

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