Wine ads the right vintage

A strong brand and a simple execution deliver superior advertising outcomes.

Penfolds has a well-established reputation as one of Australia’s premium winemakers. A Creative Benchmark study by The Newspaper Works looks at two ads for Penfolds wines – one from the winemaker itself, and the other for retailer Dan Murphy’s.

Penfolds’ Execution

The Penfolds’ ad is for its 2014 Bin Series of wines. Although it has an implicit call-to-action (available from all fine wine retailers and Penfolds Cellar Doors) it is primarily a brand-building ad.

The execution delivers the product as the hero, consistent with the brand image of being simple, refined, and understated. The ad’s key element is an image of two bottles from the 2014 Bin Series and winemaker’s scores as the key feature, a bare-bones heading with the Series’ name, and a two sentence paragraph.

“It is simple, uncomplicated and easy to understand.”

 “Made it seems like a very prestigious wine brand” – Survey Respondent

Dan Murphy’s’ creative

The ad from Dan Murphy’s is intended to generate more immediate sales. It features Penfolds Icon and Luxury Collection, which includes notable wines such as Grange and RWT, and a selection of other Penfolds wines. By featuring Penfolds, Dan Murphy’s has a point-of-difference compared with other wine retailers:

“It is a step above other ads because it advertises an expensive wine.”

“Obviously trying to imply that Dan Murphy’s can cater to expensive tastes as well as more common value.”

The major visual consists of two bottles of Penfolds wine with four paragraphs of copy, but unlike the Penfolds ad, it includes retail prices. At the bottom of the ad, another seven bottles with pricing are featured. The use of the established Dan Murphy’s banner and colours makes it immediately recognisable.

“I like this ad very much. The store is advertised very clearly at the top and the main images and descriptions are very pleasing on the background.”

So how effective were these ads compared to the newspaper norm?

Brand Equity


The study found both ads did an excellent job of at building Brand Equity, well above the norm for newspaper advertising. The standout measures were around familiarity (“The ad improved my familiarity and understanding of the brand) and establishing brand differentiation (“It encourages me to think differently about the brand/store”), both significantly above the norm. The Penfolds ad was also significantly stronger on making the brand seem appropriate, 61% above the norm.


Six strategic advertising roles of newspapers have been validated both qualitatively and quantitatively by The Newspaper Works, resulting in the creation of RoleMap. For more information on this map, click here.


Both ads were significantly above-average at building/reinforcing affinity (“It gives me a good feeling about the brand”, said one respondent). The Dan Murphy’s ad was twice as effective as the norm – remarkably enough – while the Penfolds ad was three times as effective.

For each, there was an above-average call-to-action response from study respondents, especially important for a retail message, which seeks to generate immediate sales.

Retail advertisements tactically drive sales but provide longer-term strategic benefits, such as the halo effect. It is likely these factors are at play in the Dan Murphy’s ad, an interpretation supported by the fact that 13 per cent of respondents said the ad made them think differently about Dan Murphy’s, which is 56 per cent higher than the norm.

One typical comment from a respondent was, “It tells that they sell items that are high quality and out of the ordinary. I hadn’t thought that there would be a range of premium quality wines”.

Penfolds also stands out at promoting reappraisal, prompting some respondents to increase their purchases within the category.

One respondent said: “I have an interest in the Bin Series. It provided me with the incentive to visit the bottle shop to buy some.”

Another added that the advertisement “gave the impression that Penfolds red wines in the Bin range are slightly higher in quality than other labels. (This) made me consider going back to drinking reds more regularly”.


Newspapers are recognised as an effective medium for delivering a Call to Action. ActionMap, another proprietary newspaper metric, expands on this strategic role to provide an understanding of the types of action a newspaper ad inspires. For more information on ActionMap, click here.


The Dan Murphy’s ad scores well above the norm in encouraging respondents to “visit a store or look out for the brand” (+63% higher) and to “buy the brand from the store” (+56% higher).

Somewhat surprisingly, the Penfolds ad performs even more strongly, being more than twice as effective as the norm on both the visit/look out for and buy/try measures. This is an impressive score for a “brand” ad.

Neither ad varied significantly from the norm in prompting a search for more information either online or on the phone, but this isn’t necessarily a weakness given the relative simplicity of the message and above-average call-to-action scores.

The ads were also close to the norms on word-of-mouth and social media scores, which makes sense given premium wines aren’t generally the topic of casual conversations.

On a more personal basis for respondents, the ads were slightly above the norm in terms of memorability and cut-out-and-keep.

Diagnostics Map


The Dan Murphy’s ad was closer to the norms on diagnostic measures, with most scores within a few percentage points of the norm.

The key exceptions were positive executional elements, “looks good” (46% above the norm) and “easy to see what’s on offer” (35% higher).

Visual appeal and clarity are critical elements in drawing attention and communicating the offer effectively. Given the high overall scores for the ad, it makes sense that it scores well on these measures.

The Penfolds ad not only stands out on both measures (+95% above average for “looks good”, +20% for “easy to see what’s on offer”), it also does well on “has a great photo” (+39% above average) and “headline made me want to stop and read more” (+60% above average, a remarkable result for an essentially “non-creative” headline, but strong support for its relevance).


While the Dan Murphy’s advertisement is excellent, the winemaker’s own ad outscores it on 21 out of 34 measures.

An explanation for the differences is suggested by a comparison of several measures from the Creative Diagnostics. Penfolds scores a 39% on “looks good” and 42% on “has a great photo/image”, while Dan Murphy’s scores 29% and 26% respectively. Conversely only 8 per cent of respondents consider Penfolds “cluttered”, compared with 17 per cent for Dan Murphy’s.

It seems reasonable to conclude Penfolds’ singularity of purpose and execution, focusing on a single product line with a clean and simple layout, did a great deal to boost effectiveness.



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