Valerie is VP of Operations at Sopexa USA. She has divided her time between Japan and the United States. A multicultural marketer and trade expert, she is also passionate about wine and has developed an extensive network of contacts in the wine and spirits industry after 15 years in New York City.
Hi Valerie, we are delighted to have an e-coffee with you and to allow our readers to know more about your news and the winning formats you have developed and evolved.
More than a year and a half ago you boosted your digital activations and imagined innovative and engaging formats, what has been your journey?
I still remember the frenzy of March or April 2020 where teams were busy rethinking digital alternatives for the events planned in the coming months.
How to transform these experiences into something more elaborate than a simple zoom?
How to integrate a wine tasting focus, at the scale of the US market – very large and expensive with many limitations on shipping alcohol products.
We imagined a new way to engage professionals and consumers.
Your first achievement, resulting from your reflections on this new way of engaging your audiences is #Escape to Bourgogne Digital Edition, a BtoB meeting whose resonance has exceeded your expectations.
In July 2020, after 6 weeks of reflection and a client (Burgundy Wines) who was very early on gave us carte blanche, we launched our adventure with a very young start-up that was launching a digital activation platform. Together we developed a totally new event concept in the US wine industry.
We launched an event platform in the color of Burgundy wines with the objective of training professionals from all over the US. Prior to the event, we form teams that are connected and meet in a breakout room on the day of the activation. The 2-hours experience is punctuated by short sessions that allow participants to never give up:
- Trivia: an ice breaker quiz at the beginning of each module that creates a bond between the members of each team and creates a competitive spirit between each team to win the grand prize
- An education session led by a specialized educator: we include interventions from producers from their cellar
- A tasting session: each participant received 2 bottles of wine in a personalized kit that includes a set of glasses and other goodies; like in the theater, a representative of each team is brought on stage to share with our hostess their impressions on the wines.
- On the chat, everyone comments and you can feel the energy rising; we end the experience with a Ban Bourguignon (digital of course) the bet is won: everyone is converted and shares on IG or Facebook this new experience.
See the activation clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzG5q2rsLFY
Exactly one year after this achievement, you have designed and deployed a unique operation, Wines of Portugal Virtual Experience, which challenges the traditional walkaround.
Absolutely, we launched a totally new activity whose objective was to replace the traditional walkaround with a digital activity.
The Wines of Portugal, who is our client since 2018, have an Opt in approach that consists in highlighting the companies that co-finance their activations. We asked ourselves, based on a B to B approach, how to put forward the companies individually?
In partnership with 360 to visit we developed a virtual platform highlighting 35 producers.
www.winesofportugalvirtualexperience.com was launched on July 13th with a virtual 360 micro site dedicated to each producer in addition to a common space gathering general resources on Portuguese wines.
The device included B to B connection tools for each of the producers – online appointment taking with Calendy and Zoom inclusion for easy connections and a total immersion in each vineyard.
The platform was inaugurated with a panel discussion on Portuguese wines and sustainable development issues. At the beginning of November we will launch a 2nd connection session.
Thank you for sharing these inspiring achievements with us. Can you share with our readers the keys to success of these new generation campaigns?
I would say that there are 5 points to make sure.
Check: Choose the right technical partner
Anticipate: Allow sufficient time for implementation
Rehearse : Unlike an in-person event, digital requires more rehearsals
Lead : Include a facilitator capable of orchestrating all the speakers.
Promote : Provide sufficient means for the promotion of the programs.