Digital Masterclass

martinez wines, West Yorkshire

How lockdown made Jonathan Cocker a video star

The West Yorkshire wine shop’s lockdown video diary began as a relatively routine affair with owner Jonathan Cocker doing a simple piece to camera talking about a chosen wine. But it rapidly evolved into a daily three-minute slice of handcrafted entertainment, using props and family members to create his own slightly surreal world: Jonathan in a paddling pool with an inflatable pink flamingo between his legs, Jonathan with green hair, Jonathan as the host of a Mad Hatter’s tea party, Jonathan drinking red wine while bouncing on a trampoline. The entertainment was used as a vehicle to carry offers, competitions and other marketing messages.

The mission

In addition to raising visibility at a time when face-to-face interaction with customers was vastly diminished, the focus on humour and a comic persona had the effect of bringing viewers back for more. Incredibly, it was all happening as Jonathan was preparing to go into hospital for surgery, a fact he shared with viewers in a poignant video shot with his trousers round his ankles while sitting on the loo. The format has proved campaignable, as they say in the advertising world, with a couple of new post-surgery films appearing, one littered with bovine puns in a reference to the “cow’s valve” he now has in his chest.

The impact

Judicious use of editing software meant the videos had a whiff of professionalism without sacrificing some of their homemade charm. It also meant they were packaged into digestible, three-minute morsels that didnít outstay their welcome. Viewer interactions on social media were frequently into three figures and Martinez reported a substantial boost to business as a result. The films also caught the eye of The Telegraph‘s Victoria Moore, who featured Cocker in a piece on wine shop responses to lockdown.

Le Dû’s Wines, New York City

Making people, not bottles, the stars of social media

There’s a theory in the digital marketing world that “people buy from people”.

What that means is you’re more likely to convert social media views to sales if you show the smiling faces of customers, staff and VIPs rather a stream of close-ups of new products, however funky natural wines and craft beers might look these days.

It’s this idea that underpins the social media strategy of Le Dû’s Wines, in Greenwich Village, where the Instagram stars are as likely to be the winemakers behind the wines, or the customers who drink them, as the bottles.

The execution
Posts often tie into the shop’s own tastings and Bob Dylan puts in regular appearances. The shop’s late founder, Jean-Luc Le Dû, hung a large framed photo of the singer playfully downing wine straight from a bottle, and visiting winemakers are frequently coerced into adopting the pose in front of it for an Instagram shot with the hashtag #drinkingdylanstyle.

“Bottle shots can be pretty, but at the end of the day a bottle is a bottle,” says Le Dû’s Timothy Dillon. “That human element is important so, outside of winemakers, we also try to feature customers and staff as much as possible interacting with the bottles, showing the emotion the wine evokes, which we think is much more relatable.”

The impact
The store monitors the reach and impressions of posts, and what works in adding sales of particular wines, but the effect can also be less tangible.

“Sometimes we will do a post about a very expensive wine which will garner a lot of digital praise but yield lower sales,” says Dillon.

“It’s not that they don’t actually want to buy that wine, it’s that not everyone can buy very expensive wine all the time. They can still appreciate that we are a place to get those kinds of wines though and that lets us know they are listening and interested.”

Win an £800 meal for your team with an Aster promotion

Armit Wines is helping indies promote its famous Ribera del Duero wine Aster with digital activity. We’ll be offering ideas and suggestions over the coming months, and there’s an £800 prize for the most imaginative campaign, to be spent at a Spanish restaurant.

To participate, simply plan any kind of digital campaign promoting Aster Crianza (and Finca el Otero if you like).

Email Alex Hill at Armit Wines
( or contact your Armit rep to receive the digital assets you need: logos, images and technical information.

Grape to Grain, Prestwich

Zoom tastings bring in a new audience, from Manchester to Malawi

Like many retailers, Grape to Grain took to the Zoom airwaves for weekly online customer tastings during lockdown, but their success led it to take things a step further to offer private online tastings too.

Three packages – Fun & Funky, Smooth & Sexy and Epic & Elegant – are now offered at £25, £35 or £50 a head with steadily-more premium sets of three 125ml wine and cheese samples dispatched to each participant. Prices come down the more people take part – from a minimum of six up to a maximum of 200.

The mission
To raise the business’s profile and drive new revenue streams and geographic reach through lockdown by enabling friends and family in different parts of the to have a social gathering while enjoying some top quality wines. The offer supplements the two stores’ weekend live online tastings for which customers in the Greater Manchester area can have a choice of sample sizes, carafes or full bottles delivered.

The impact
Co-owner Tom Sneesby says: “We did four private tastings last week and we’ve got three more coming up. We’ve reached people in Glasgow, London, rural Wales and Jersey.

“We’ve just sent a bottle to someone who’s going to send it on to Malawi for their best friend to join in there. We’ll definitely carry on doing them. It’s changed our business model completely; it’s been revelatory for us.

“It’s great for people to do with friends around the country, or for people who can’t get out or don’t want the full expense of going out with taxis to get home, or those who don’t want to just sit at home at the weekend and watch Netflix. They’ve become a focal point for many people’s weekends.”