Marketing Communications for Italian Spirits Company

Distillerie Bonollo Umberto | Gra'it Grappa & Amaro Of

I was retained by Distillerie Bonollo Umberto to provide digital marketing & communications services in support of the creation of their U.S. subsidiary for the launch of a new type of grappa, Gra’it Grappa, created for use in cocktails, and the introduction of their existing products into the US market: Amara Of and Grappa Of, both of which were already recognized among the finest grappas and amaros in Italy.

My work was multi-faceted and included the following.

  • Public Relations & Influencer Marketing – I researched media, bloggers and influencers in Austin, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and began pitching them on behalf of Bonollo. In most cases, there was an event organized prior to the competition and the media was invited. I also established relationships with journalists at trade publications including Bartender, Punch Drink, Thirsty, Modern Distillery Age, Distiller, Chilled, Beverage Insider, as well as with local journalists in each city. I pitched and placed stories in many publications.
  • Trade Email Outreach – I wrote and designed the emails that were sent to bartenders in each city to invite them to the competition. This included creating the city-specific segments and personalizing and automating email campaigns in Mailchimp.
  • Social Media – I created all the visual and written content for social media channels, including Linkedin, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and I also grew followers and engagement and managed the community conversations. In many cases I was on site to take the photographs used for social media. The professional photography and vidography was provided by Circo Massimo Entertainment.
  • Digital Media Buying – I managed DBU’s budget for advertising, scoped all appropriate outlets for digital ads, reviewed their proposals and made recommendations to the company on how to allocate their $20K spend. I also negotiated down the pricing on contracts and saved their company money, and I did all the placements and reviews prior to publication.  I also wrote advertorials.
  • Administrative Management – I managed the lists for all the events for trade and media and, for the final competition in Miami, I managed all the travel, lodging and transport arrangements for the 35 tradespeople, media and Italian staff who attended.
  • Other Responsiblities – I brokered relationships between Bonollo and the Italian chamber of commerces in Miami and New York, which resulted in DBU’s sponsorship of many of the chambers’ food and wine events in both Miami and New York. I also brokered relationships with their company and other business partners and restaurants, as well as the local Italian American community.
  • Web Translation – I translated the Italian version of the Distiller Bonollo Umberto’s website to English and edited phrases and words to make it more approachable for the US audience who didn’t have as much of a familiarity with grappa or amaro as they do in Italy.

(Please note: while I did create some of the graphics you see on this page, the majority of the design work was done by talented graphic designers in Italy who worked for the Bonollo distillery. I’m using them here to so you can visualize the US launch of this product.)

The Gra'it Challenge

For the US launch of the new product Gra’it Grappa, the Bonollo family and their partner Luca Fabris launched a multi-city cocktail competition in Miami, New York, Austin, Chicago, and Los Angeles. The goal was to reach the trade, via bartenders, first, providing these mixologists with an opportunity to create an original cocktail using Gra’it as a key ingredient and compete to win a full paid 10-day tour of Italy.  

Courting the Trade Mixologists, the Media and Influencers

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