Building brand awareness through community outreach and advocacy
In 2009, the Maine Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association, a group of family-owned distributors and an integral part of Maine’s state-regulated alcohol distribution system, worked with NMC on a Marshall Plan®, a strategic marketing and public relations plan, to reposition the association more positively with legislators and the public about what the members do and the important role they have in ensuring quality and choice for consumers, while advocating for responsibility.
- Support and strengthen the association’s legislative outreach program
- Position the association as an advocate for responsibility
- Build public awareness of the association’s significant contributions to the Maine economy and its important role in the state-regulated alcohol distribution system
- Secure 10 or more media results about the MBWDA each year
Strategies and methods
NMC helped the association rename itself the “Maine Beer and Wine Distributors Association.” A new logo, brand language, messaging, and tagline, “Delivering Quality and Choice. Advocating Responsibility,” were developed to more clearly convey the MBWDA’s function and value. The importance of responsibility and the MBWDA’s role in promoting it are key themes.
NMC partnered with research firm Planning Decisions to conduct an economic impact study of the industry in Maine, giving the association’s legislative advocate and NMC concrete data to use when communicating with lawmakers and the media.
To improve name recognition the association worked with NMC on several communication materials to reach the association’s target audiences, including a brand style guide to ensure all brand elements had a cohesive look and feel. New marketing materials included a e-newsletter, distributor tour PowerPoint, issues backgrounders and a brochure to further educate legislators and help prevent legislation detrimental to the industry. The cornerstone of the public awareness and education effort for the association was the creation of a campaign to establish the association as a recognized advocate for responsibility, and not just when it comes to making choices about beer and wine.
To achieve statewide attention for the campaign, presentations on responsibility would be given to students in schools across Maine. Local media and legislators were invited to attend. To find the best spokesperson that fits the MBWDA brand and story, NMC connected the association with Olympian luge athlete and lifelong Maine resident Julia Clukey. During the seven years of the campaign, Clukey presented at 67 Maine schools. NMC also collected stellar video testimonials from educators about Julia’s positive impact on Maine students, which are used to further promote the campaign.
NMC helped the MBWDA also launch a statewide television and radio PSA campaign featuring Olympian Julia Clukey communicating the importance of responsibility to Maine youth. The association also began hosting legislative events in April, Alcohol Awareness Month, to enable Clukey to communicate directly with lawmakers about the campaign.
After Julia’s retirement from luge in 2016, NMC worked with the MBWDA to again shift the focus of the campaign with a new theme of “Julia Inspires,” and honored a student at each Maine school where Julia presented as a way to showcase the great young role models across the state. This was also part of a strategy to encourage legislators to be at the presentations to honor the students, and secure media coverage about Julia’s presentations and the outstanding role models she was honoring.
Each year, the responsibility campaign continued to grow in scope. The MBWDA has helped Clukey forge a relationship with the Kennebec Valley YMCA, resulting in the annual Julia Clukey’s Camp for Girls. Since 2012, the summer camp, co-directed by Clukey, focusing on character development has hosted more than 500 young women.
NMC utilized the PSA campaign, school presentations and summer camp to generate extensive news coverage throughout Maine. NMC has also secured stories highlighting the industry, and opinion pieces published in key daily newspapers have heightened awareness even more. Social media and the web have played key roles in the campaign, as well.
- Two years after The Marshall Plan® was completed, the MBWDA received a Joint Resolution from the Maine Legislature recognizing April as Alcohol Awareness Month and acknowledging the value of the MBWDA’s responsibility initiative. During the seven years of the campaign, NMC secured more than 225 media results for the association.
- During the seven years of the responsibility campaign, Clukey received nearly 100 presentation requests and schools and community events. While juggling her training and education, in total, she presented at more than 67 schools across the state from, Sanford to Caribou.
- The retirement press conference in 2016 resulted in nine million media impressions including local and national results, and many of the results included several mentions of Julia Clukey’s work with the MBWDA.
- In 2014, the responsibility campaign for the MBWDA won a Golden Arrow Award (Silver) from the Maine Public Relations Council in the Organizational Identity Category.