How Vinomofo's wild and existential $4.5 million advertising campaign was born from a dream

Earlier this year wine e-retailer, Vinomofo, secured a whopping $25 million investment from Blue Sky Venture Capital.

Cashed up and looking to continue their growth co-founders Andre Eikmeier and Justin Dry made the decision to “blow it” on a big, above-the-line advertising campaign.

They headed to New Zealand to make an ad that’s more a film that wouldn’t be out of place at Tropfest. The total budget, including buying spots, is a whopping $4.5 million.

It was a big move for the startup, which previously has only relied on social media and digital marketing, but through it they hope to secure an additional 50,000 members and a significant revenue boost before the end of 2016.

“Everyone tells us that TV, cinema, billboards and a big digital campaign is what we need to reach everyone we want to reach. We hope they’re right, but really we won’t know until we know, right?” said Eikmeier.

“[It’s] a little scary for two guys who five years ago were sitting in their garage hand-packing wine boxes for their first 11 mofos.”

But has it paid off?

The ad opens with some existential thoughts on life, showing images of the birth of a child, the unidentified man who stood in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, and the words: “in what you decide to accept or reject lies who you really are”.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

The protagonist in the ad then breaks out of his daily life to escape and live freely in the wild.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

This is where it gets a little crazy.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

Hunting and gathering, struggling to survive, he learns to make fire and thrive in the wilderness, Bear Grylls-style.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

But upon cooking some rabbit and he realises he needs a nice wine to pair it with.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

He runs back to civilisation, orders the wine from Vinomofo.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

He remembers the life he used to have, and takes the wine to his partner’s house.

Screenshot: Vinomofo/ YouTube.

It ends, leaving the audience with the tag line: “It’s our decisions in life that define us.”

See for yourself here.

We spoke to Eikmeier about the campaign and what inspired them to take the risk.

“We realised we were hitting a bit of a ceiling with our current digital marketing spend. We had a feeling we were reaching the same audience, and needed to break through that,” he says.

“We figured that when people who loved wine tried us, they generally liked us, and came back for more, and told their friends about us. But we would still come across so many people who loved wine, and who we thought would love Vinomofo, who’d never heard about us.

“We didn’t want to just make a features ad. Sure, we believed we had awesome wine, at the best prices, and good service, but everybody says they have that, and I don’t think anybody believes you.

“We wanted to go out with what we stand for. Something that meant something. We talked about what defined our ‘tribe’, so that we could find new people like that. They loved wine, sure, but they also were adventurous, as they were comfortable buying ‘secret deals’. They shared our views on humanity and the planet, or at least tolerated our involvement and communication on the causes we support.

“And so that led to this idea, which the creative team at Saatchi and Saatchi came up with, that it’s our decisions in life that define us. And we loved it.”

It turns out the storyline was inspired by a dream Eikmeier had while overseas.

“The ad just played out in my dream, and surprisingly, when I bolted for the laptop at four in the morning to write it down, I could remember it, every bit of it. All these scenes depicting moments of decision, big and small,” he said.

“That was the ad we were going to make, and then after a while, we thought ‘it might be a bit self-righteous. What about a bit of Mofo humour?’ We also talked about brand recall.

“So we had this idea that a guy could be on his laptop in the beginning, watching this manifesto, or thinking it in his head, and then he could order some wine at the end of it.

“So we put that to Saatchi, and then they came up with this incredible idea that became ‘Into the Wild’ – that the manifesto inspired our hero to change his life.”

Despite recognising the gamble of such an expensive campaign — according to Screen Australia the average budget for an Australian film in 2015 cost $3.7 million, Vinomofo’s entire campaign cost $800,00 more — Eikmeier says it was the right path to take to control their growth trajectory.

“I think there comes a point where you want to just get on with it and find everyone who might like what you do. That’s certainly where we thought we were at in Australia.

“It’s a big risk. We’re a bit terrified. We don’t know if TV, cinema and outdoor will work. We like the campaign, and the ad, but we don’t know if people will sign up and start buying wine from us.

“But I think it’s important, even as you scale, to take risks. You’ve got to try new things. This is our big new thing.”

So what have people thought of the final product so far?

According to Eikmeier the initial response has been overwhelming positive.

“People have loved it. It’s sparked conversation. And people think it’s clever, and funny, and they get the story, and they understand the link to Vinomofo.”

So while we’ll have to see if the campaign helps the team to hit their targets by the end of the year, in the meantime Eikmeier and Dry will be launching in Singapore at the end of November and getting ready to launch in the US in the new year.

“Shit’s getting real!”

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