Wine Australia calls for 'unity' as major backer withdraws

  • Wednesday 2 February 2011

The head of Wine Australia in the UK has called for unity after another of the country’s leading producers withdrew its support for the generic marketing body.

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Treasury Wine Estates, the Foster’s-owned company which has brands including Penfolds, Rosemount and Lindemans, said it was pulling out of the programme ‘temporarily’, for financial reasons and because of concerns about the current strategy.

Wine Australia’s new marketing campaign, called A+ Australian Wine, focuses on smaller wineries and regionality, but has been criticised by some for not being sufficiently commercially driven.

Australian Vintage – formerly McGuigan Simeon – pulled out of Wine Australia last year, but Treasury’s withdrawal only covers the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) area.

Peter Jackson, managing director of Treasury Wine Estates EMEA, said: ‘We don’t believe that the new A+ campaign currently being leveraged by Wine Australia does enough to promote and represent our total portfolio of brands and, in addition, the strength of the Australian dollar is significantly impacting our profitability, so it is vital we review all of our ongoing investments to ensure they are delivering the greatest return.

‘We still believe there is a role for a generic body to promote and enhance the reputation of Australian wines in the UK and will be happy to review our position once a more commercially-driven campaign is put in place.’

Yvonne May, newly installed Wine Australia regional director for the UK, Ireland and the EU, told Decanter.com she was not especially concerned about the funding lost through Treasury’s withdrawal.

‘I’m less bothered by that than I am by the lack of unity,’ she said. ‘I’m very keen that we are one united force behind the promotional body for Australian wine in the UK, and it’s something that Australian wine has always done so well.’

May pointed out that Treasury continued to be involved in Wine Australia in North America and China, and said the company had been ‘very supportive’ of the new A+ campaign.

‘It’s a very tough market [in the UK] at the moment and we are keeping very much an open dialogue. We would very much hope to bring them back into the programme in the new fiscal year.’

A spokesperson for Treasury said there was no fixed timeline on the withdrawal, adding that the company would be meeting Wine Australia for further discussions.

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