BrewLife has the best clients. Seriously… take Coravin.

Pour, enjoy & repeat without pulling the cork.This is an ingenious product that allows you to pour wine from a bottle without removing the cork, without oxygen entering the bottle and thus without compromising the wine still inside. It’s perfect for wine lovers at home, as well as for restaurants and wineries that want to offer amazing wines by the glass.

Coravin engaged BrewLife early this year to develop the brand, create marketing materials and plan the launch with their PR firm. We created the logo, website, videos, print ads and more. The list is exhausting but gave us a great excuse to enjoy wine at our desks—these projects always demand a lot of ‘research.’

Coravin launched July 29th, with huge success, changing the way many people think about wine. Currently it’s only available for purchase at and but it’s been endorsed by the biggest names and finest palates, including Robert Parker who called it “the most transformational and exciting new product for wine lovers that has been developed or invented in the last 30-plus years.”

We very much enjoy working with the Coravin folks, including Howard Leyda, the VP of Marketing at Coravin, who kindly took the time to let us get inside his head.


Howard LeydaWhat attracted you to join Coravin and your work here?

I met with the Vice President of Engineering, Mike Rider, for lunch and when he showed me Coravin’s Wine Access Technology I knew Coravin had a revolutionary product that would change the way people enjoyed wine.


What sets Coravin apart?

Coravin is the first wine access technology in history that allows wine enthusiasts to enjoy a bottle of wine glass-by-glass over weeks, months or longer.

I expect Coravin to radically change how people think, both about enjoying a bottle of wine and shopping for one. In the past you’d think deeply about the price of the bottle because once you opened it you’ve committed to drink it that night. Now, the math has changed from the price of the bottle to the price of a glass of wine from that bottle because you no longer have to commit to the whole bottle. You can drink it a glass at a time over weeks, months and even longer.


Coravin Facebook pageHow has BrewLife helped you build and tell your story?

BrewLife has been instrumental in developing and building the Coravin brand from name, to brand identity, brand positioning and the go-to-market strategy. BrewLife has been a partner.


How has the proliferation of digital channels and digital consumption changed audience engagement?

Digital channels are changing peoples’ (both young and old) lives profoundly and how marketers reach their customers. Marketers now need to listen to and converse with their customers not just broadcast messages.

The best part of the new medium is that customers and non-customers now have a voice. If you listen, it allows the brand to quickly evolve and meet their needs, thus building value for both customers and the brand.

Coravin website


What about your work do you find most rewarding?

I love marketing and building brands that make a meaningful difference in peoples’ lives. I have been very fortunate to be part of the introduction and building of several brands that have transformed peoples’ lives—the Iomega Zip, Jaz and Ditto, Magellan Roadmate, iRobot Roomba, Scooba, and Braava. And now I am part of the team that is changing wine enthusiasts’ lives with the launch of Coravin Wine Access System.


What are you working on now that is most exciting?

Coravin just launched its revolutionary product. We have only begun to scratch the surface of the brand’s potential. What’s exciting is all the possibilities. There is so much more to come.


If you could high-five anyone, who would it be?

Jimi Hendrix. His music reaches me at the most profound level. His first three albums are three of the best albums ever: Are you experienced?, Axis Bold as Love, and Electric Ladyland. His short time on this earth was magic.


12/31/13 CNBC interviews Greg Lambrecht, Coravin founder, and shows how this device works.

“It’s not me, it’s you” – a familiar relationship phrase you’ve either used or perhaps even had spoken to you, except you might notice it’s significantly altered. In a different type of relationship, that of a client and an agency, the altered phrase should be the one that clients hear from their agencies.

For the past few years, I’ve had the privilege of working on the client side with some of the most-loved brands in the nation. Yoplait, Cheerios, Progresso, Nature Valley and others at General Mills, as well as Reese’s and the many brands at Hershey, have legions of dedicated consumers. During my time with these brands, I worked with several agencies and had some great working relationships and some that were just okay.

There are lots of lessons to bring back to the agency side, but probably none more important than the philosophy that the clients’ goals have to be first, so to clients I say, “It’s not me, it’s you.” Sounds very elementary, I know. However, the most successful agency relationships truly put my brands’ goals first. Those agencies weren’t blatantly trying to grow their business by always pitching to do more work and meet more potential clients within the building. Ironically, these successful agencies did receive more work and meet more potential clients within the company.

Agencies should deliver great ideas or strategy and then follow up with excellent execution, all while putting the brands’ goals first. What results is trust, which most people agree is the foundation of successful relationships. And, trust grows over time.

One of those successful agency relationships was with WCG. A phrase I heard from one of my main contacts was, “whatever’s right for your business.” So, in addition to being ahead of the curve with what’s next in digital, WCG put my brands first. I also liked that WCG had one P&L, which meant it was easier to do the right thing for my brands.

Back to the title of this post, today I’m pleased to announce that I have joined that agency, WCG, to lead our soon-to-be opened Midwest office, located in the Twin Cities. I’m really looking forward to helping brands achieve their goals because it truly is about “you,” not “me.”


This summer I embarked on a crazy road trip adventure.  I left New York headed to Los Angeles (solo) where I’m living for the summer, before turning around and driving back home; this time with my family in the car.

Along the 3,900 mile journey (I took the long way, through Austin) I had a lot of time on my hands to reflect; here are the top lessons learned, applicable to business, while driving west:

1)      Undivided Attention is Key

OK, sure – you could say I was driving and talking, but when you’re on long stretches of roads with no cars anywhere (hello Route 10), it was the perfect time to have 1-on-1 calls with clients and staff.  Too often in meetings I’m constantly interrupted by incoming emails or other distractions; rarely do we unplug entirely and devote  100% attention to person on the phone.  I did some of my best thinking and provided the best counsel/advice when all attention was on the person I was talking to, and I vowed to myself I will do more of this more often when I’m back at my desk.

2)      Face Time > FaceTime

I’m very fortunate to work for a company with multiple offices; plotting the drive where offices are stay-overs turned out to be a great decision.  I spent quality time with my team and “pop in” visits with extended teams who have nothing to do with my business.  I learned about things they were working on, immediately saw how their thinking could be applied to my line of business.  Too often we’re caught up in our own worlds; going outside our comfort zone can result in great new POVs and incremental business.

3)      Go the extra mile

I’ve done this x-country drive before (4 times, actually) and even the best plans require a change when opportunity strikes.  In my case,opportunity to meet a new business prospect was a 200 mile detour, which was not only a scenic drive, but could result in more business.   In this example, I literally drove the extra mile, but it reminded me that going the extra mile for current clients is what it’s all about in a service industry.   With nothing but asphault ahead of me, I pushed myself for new ideas that no one else is thinking about and looking at things from a totally different POV.  Back at my desk now, I keep asking: what more can be done to go that extra mile?

The journey back to the east coast begins in a couple of short weeks, with the wife and the kids in the car together.  I can’t wait to learn what my family teaches me along the 3,500 miles home; it may prove inspirational for part 2 of this post.

I know what you’re already thinking. Absolutely. Where else can I get 7 million+ hits on a piece of owned, branded content, if not on YouTube before the big game? It’s a hard argument to convince anyone otherwise, as I don’t know any other time of the year when consumers are more open and willing to invite branded commercials into their leisure time. For that alone, the answer is probably yes.

But all the controversy around this years’ ads got me thinking. If you spent $4M to air a commercial during the game, would you put it on YouTube in advance and give critics the opportunity to pick it apart? Or, wait until it’s shown in its regular airslot without all the pundit’s comments? I know the rule of controversy – a healthy debate adds fuel, and thus, more people watching.

The commercial for Mercedez Benz featuring Kate Upton was probably filmed knowing it wouldn’t ever air and it would ride the publicity. But in defending the ad, Kate created a bigger “oops” by admitting that she doesn’t even own a car.  Compare this to the 1992 Pepsi commercial featuring Cindy Crawford which is revered as one of the best commercials in Super Bowl history.  Obviously, in the pre-YouTube era, Pepsi didn’t exactly have to wrestle with such a decision to syndicate it ahead of time or not.


Given their history of past ads, played their cards early this year. But wouldn’t a supermodel kissing a tech nerd receive more online buzz for its “shock value” had it first broken during the game? The fact that the controversy was the story lead, the effect has all been diluted before the game-time commercial. Same can be said of the Budweiser ad featuring the Clydesdales. I’d have been more interested in the storyline and it would have resonated more for me, had I not seen it already.  Maybe that’s why I loved the Jeep ad so much.  It packed an emotional wallop and it debuted during the game.


And finally, there’s Volkswagen who practically wrote the book on the pre-airing concept in the YouTube generation. “The Force” (still one of my favorites) received 13 Million views before it aired on the big game. I don’t believe VW deserved the unnecessary negative spotlight for this year’s ad, so I’m glad to see it air during the game. But I have to wonder if its shelf life was cut short merely because it was released so far in advance that pundits could pick it apart.  I really hope not.


Only time will tell if this year’s crop of ads that waited until game day to air will outrank the ones that chose to release it early.  But I have to wonder, given the response of this year’s critics, if ads of the future will continue to release their spots so far in advance or if they’re better off waiting until game day to put them up on YouTube.

No, I am not describing a recent crafting session for Michaels. Or asking the final bonus round question for our Olympic Trivia games.

I am referring to an article I read recently about an Exec who became CMO at a PR firm and left fairly quickly to get back to his roots at a well-known advertising agency he admired for years.

When asked why he did the “ad agency-to-PR-back-to-ad agency” thing he said that he missed the industry that he considered his craft and its distinct process of creation, expression, people, and way of thinking. While he met a lot of nice people at the PR firm that recruited him to re-invent it, he stated,  “ We were just not similarly wired.”   He went further to say, “I will look back on the venture as a bit of post grad work to expand horizons, globalization and respect for integrated communications.”  Culturally it was time for him to go home.

As someone who left the advertising world to join a company steeped in PR at its roots I admit that I read this article several times. The PR agency had no comment at the time the article went to press.  I really wonder what they thought of him?

Does the successful blending of advertising and PR together (so you cannot tell where one stops and the other starts) come down to wiring?  Is there a red wire and yellow wire and if they are connected just so the light goes on?  Or maybe an explosion goes off?

In the year and a half these two worlds collided for me I have seen the light (and some mini explosions).

Conceptually it is really a no brainer why you’d want these callings and all the related practices (social media, consumer, professional, medical education, digital, analytics and global) to converge.  Strategy, creative, platform, and communication streams can effectively and seamlessly saturate their respective ecosystems. When this connectedness happens, it is game changing for the client and the agency. Every discipline becomes modernized and the kinds of products, programs and services that are invented through this mash up are masterful and meaningful.

Who wouldn’t want innovation and value?

I do think that people are wired differently based on their experience set and the demands of the professional environments they grow up in.  Its like baby’s formative first years—we are all shaped by what we know and who our work parents were. I would have to say that the wiring comment is true on many levels.

PR is an intense singularly focused and highly scrappy endeavor where you are often reacting or “handling in the moment” with steadfast calmness and know how.  I liken it to an emergency room where the attending doc is stitching you up and telling you a story at the same time to distract you from the pain.

Advertising/marketing is a compilation exercise of intensive, sometimes protracted and circuitous planning with extended teams and highly (sometimes well) orchestrated building, bobbing and weaving.  Eventually you get this patchwork of programs and strategies and services that are stapled or duct taped together to have a semi-enduring quality about them but can be undone if necessary and reshaped using some other glue to get to goal should market dynamics dictate.

While I am sometimes frustrated by the differences between PR and MKTG/ADVTG, more often than not I am smitten with the resourcefulness, richness of ideas and calm problem solving approach.  I hope that my PR colleagues are equally smitten with the ability to cobble together the big picture story or create dimension and depth by bringing teams of people together who might not have found each other in another life.  I see it that we all live in a world that could be called RP:

  • Real Problem solving and Reaching People.

We collectively achieve RP in a place we cohabitate and call home by whatever means it takes— hard-wiring, stapling, stitching or taping.  It’s an evolving art; and a brave new world. To live and flourish in it you have to roll up your sleeves and craft well with others…

Marketing Girl in a PR World is part of a weekly series written by Laura Fusco, leader of our W2O Group’s Health 360 practice. 

Last week at SXSWi I had the opportunity to listen in on two different panels talking about social television and transmedia – the art of telling stories across multiple devices, often known as the “second screen”. The first panel featured representatives from Nielsen, ESPN, Oxygen Media and MTV with the subject “integrating brands into social television.”

During this discussion, the broadcasters unilaterally agreed that social opened up new revenue streams giving brands additional avenues for sponsorship and advertising. They also agreed that broadcasters are leading the way in social television. This point is hard to argue – broadcasters are finding clever ways to maximize fan engagement during live broadcasts; ESPN greatly benefits from live event programming, while MTV succinctly said “we know what happens next” and therefore match online content to fulfill the needs of their fan base.

And, where broadcasters are treating their shows as brands themselves, they’re winning – reaping the benefits financially, and creating fan advocacy/loyalty too. Take, for example, Bravo TV where also at SXSW, Lisa Hsia, EVP of Digital Media of Bravo gave impressive stats surrounding “Last Chance Kitchen” (the online competition allowed fans to vote back eliminated contestants). Hsia proclaimed that 26% of the audience who watched “Top Chef: Texas” were actively involved in “Last Chance Kitchen,” and the reveal episode (where Bev won) was the season’s highest rated episode. Further, she said that social engagement shattered all kinds of records for NBC Universal, and left me with one of the more memorable quotes of the day regarding content: “if it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.”

Two terrific panels, overall. In fact, a great Time Magazine article was written last week about the Bravo case study, saying that broadcasters stand to reap the most rewards if they continue to drive fan engagement, increased ratings…and lucrative sponsorships.

So, this keeps me wondering: why aren’t brands rising to this level too? Today’s consumer brand has every opportunity to become broadcasters themselves – creating relevant content and [ultimately] driving social commerce to reap the rewards. Through clever content and fan engagement, brands can become their own media channels. In fact, one brand that’s clearly risen to this challenge is Red Bull, as illustrated by a recent Fast Company article. They’ve completely immersed themselves in content its customers crave – and they’re reaping the benefits, financially.

Through advanced analytics, brands have more insightful knowledge about their customers than ever before, but even better – direct access to their fans is only a few keystrokes away. What an enormous opportunity. So while it may be true that broadcasters are leading the charge right now, it seems to me it’s only a matter of time before brands rise up and move from looking at social as another sponsorship/integration opportunity and shift their attention to creating or co-creating transmedia content that builds real advocacy and brand loyalty which will turn into real commerce, too.

Aside from Red Bull, what other brands do you think are doing a great job of rising to the challenge? Would love to know your thoughts on other examples.

It only took 1 second for me to give Clint Eastwood my undivided attention during halftime at the Super Bowl. This is what I was waiting for all day – not the farcical ads, the spoofs, the cameo celebrity appearances. I wanted to be wowed, to be impressed with smart thinking that makes me believe in a product.

The reason I tune into Super Bowl commercials is because of the precedent set by Apple’s 1984 ad. It was unlike anything you’d seen before: that’s what the Super Bowl commercial is supposed to do. Chrysler moved us last year with Eminem and the “Imported from Detroit” theme, but this year they did themselves one better. They transcended beyond the brand – and evolved the campaign to stand for the American Auto Industry as a whole, brought to you by Chrysler. It packed an emotional whallop that made you believe in the power of innovation and was a rallying cry for the American spirit which has stalled in recent years. Hear our engines roar. Powerful copy, a great story – delivered poignantly and powerfully by Clint Eastwood.

I can’t remember the last time a brand achieved all that in 60 seconds. As I started up my Jeep this morning, I felt more connected to Chrysler than I had since I bought my car. Well done.

In its broadest definition by Wikipedia, the Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in the early 18th century…that sought to mobilize the power of reason to reform society and advance knowledge.  During this period, communications between intellectuals were spread via word of mouth, and in written form via encyclopedias which ultimately helped form public opinions and policies by developing nations, including America.

When you think about it, no other time in history have we experienced such a parallel of intellectual knowledge-sharing than we have in the last decade of growth in social networks.  Early entrants such as Friendster, MySpace, Bebo and others blazed a trail for Facebook, which exploded onto the scene and demonstrated the true power of knowledge-sharing that I’d argue is on the scale and magnitude of the early 18th Century.  Consider how German philosopher Immanuel Kant’s defined this critical juncture: “Mankind’s final coming of age, the emancipation of the human consciousness from an immature state of ignorance and error.”  This powerful language is applicable to today’s modern world.  Social networks, mobile devices and our connectivity to one another means we are more informed and empowered than ever before; our ignorance has been emancipated.  What an incredible, exciting time to bear witness.

But what’s most exciting to understand is that the Age of Enlightenment led directly to the Industrial Revolution.  This is when the power of knowledge and information transformed from reason into action, positively affecting mankind’s entire way of life.  The enlightened turned prosperous and, in turn, income and population grew at unprecedented levels.

Even in a down economy, such advancements in today’s social networks and technology lead me to believe we are on the cusp of greatness once again.  Consumers are turning enlightened reason into action every day, and companies are finding ways to monetize and grow their businesses in ways they never dreamed possible.   As consumers, how we perform transactions has changed, with friends and family influencing our purchases long before the point of transaction.  Why?  Because we are empowered by our newfound enlightenment.

As more and more businesses begin to identify and interact with their core customers, the age of digital enlightenment will yield to an era of explosive growth and prosperity.  Some companies have already figured this out (e.g. Apple’s App store) and are far along on the journey.  As more companies transform their enlightened audiences into modern industrialists, we will all be propelled into the new era of a modern industrial revolution.  Is your brand ready?

Craig Alperowitz is Group Director, Consumer Brands at WCG

1.  Apple recognizes that every customer is important – and they make sure you know it.

In Steve Job’s brilliant press conference on the antenna issue in which he had the media absolutely eating out of his hand,, he must have repeated the phrase that “every customer is important” as least a dozen times in different contexts. Even though the antenna issue only affected .055% of iPhone 4 users (making it NOT statistically significant for you p-value addicts out there), you couldn’t have walked away from the press conference without thinking, “Geez – Apple really cares about their customers.” What might have seemed like Steve Jobs just “talking” in a time of crisis wasn’t – in fact, it was just the opposite. Apple, who has always been very meticulous about what they give to their customers (as noted in the July issue of Fast Company:, carefully crafted a message, no doubt product of thoroughly developed talking points and numerous rehearsals to make sure that above all else, Apple reassured customers and non-customers of their commitment to the end user.

Also on this point, medical device companies could do a better job of following Apple’s “every customer is important” mantra as we are in a unique position. We’re not just giving our patients a pill to take; we’re combining the best of both technology and healthcare to provide physicians and patients with an innovative solution. We have the opportunity to create a brand experience for our physician and patient customers that engages them and turns them into our ambassadors. If we recognize that every single patient is truly important AND actually treat them like they are, we can see what a great opportunity we have to create an ambassador army made up of every physician and patient customer with whom we interact.

2.  Apple identified what their customers were saying and what they wanted in a timely manner.

It took Apple only 22 days from the day that it shipped its new iPhone 4 to identify the antenna issue and proactively offer a solution (albeit some may think that this was at the behest of social media). 22 days is quicker than getting a piece of collateral through legal and regulatory review. How were they able to do this? Easy – they were listening! Yeah, yeah you say, but they are a tech company – of course they are listening online to what their customers are saying. I can guarantee you that there’s just as much being said about medical devices online that you don’t know about (but would care about) than there is about Apple’s “bumper.” You just have to know where to be looking and what to be listening for. So what’s your excuse not for listening? By engaging customers online and actively listening to what is being said about your brand, medical device manufacturers are able to identify issues proactively and not wait until issues spiral out of control. Best practices for effective brand management doesn’t just suggest active online listening…it demands it.

3.  Apple gave their customers what they wanted (this time)…and more.

So should medical device companies. I know not all medical device companies have Apple’s resources or their brand reputation. Few companies do and even fewer recognize how to use these effectively – however, whether you’re a small, VC-backed start up or the largest medical device company of the world, you need to give your customers what they want and then go beyond that by to give them even more – what they weren’t expecting. Too often today, we see companies relying solely on the value proposition of a given therapy to convince patients or physicians to choose their device. Medical device companies need to recognize that this is only 50% of the equation, especially in the crowded marketplace the device industry is becoming. What services do you offer? What added value do you bring to the physician? What experience do you give to patients? How do you improve the way they feel about your brand? This is what makes your customers choose your brand over your competition and it’s what keeps the Mac addicts coming back for more every time Apple puts out a new product.