No one ever expects to find a phone booth in the middle of a vineyard…and that’s what makes this such a brilliant tourism marketing case study. The folks at Nova Scotia’s Luckett Vineyards have scored the brass ring of branding with this creative move. But it’s no fleeting stunt; it has brand and marketing legs for days. And spoiler alert…the phone actually works.
Let’s break down just what makes it so brilliant, especially from a tourism perspective.
- It’s totally unique…and let’s be honest, very few ideas actually ARE unique. Most often, ideas billed as “unique” are just riffs on existing ideas. But this one embodies the very definition of the word unique. An iconic British phone box (which we call a phone booth here in the US), set smack in the middle of a vineyard in Nova Scotia? Nobody saw that coming. And that makes everybody pay attention to it.
- It sets their marketing photos apart. We’ve all seen gorgeous pictures of vineyards. Many with gorgeous surrounding backdrops. Often with the light catching the landscape just right, and especially at sunrise or sunset. Never with a British phone box featured in the scene. On social media, such photos stop thumbs from scrolling. And in media relations, it catches the interest of journalists.
- It provides bragworthy photo opps for guests. Guests share in that halo effect of capturing unique photos…and it does the same thing for their own social media feeds that it does for Luckett’s brand marketing. It makes for a cool photo that a visitor just can’t get elsewhere. And to be quite frank, in this way, it helps establish their presence as a tourist destination. Visitors to Nova Scotia who want to explore the province’s wine country in the Annapolis Valley region make Luckett a must-do stop. And if they stumbled upon it accidentally…they’ll never forget it.
- It provides a surprise experience for guests. Wait… you thought it was just a photo opp? So might guests…until they go check it out. It’s actually a working original rotary-style telephone, and guests can make free calls from it to anywhere in North America. (TBH, just the experience of using a rotary phone is a surprise experience for many of the younger generations… are there instructions on how to dial? LOL)
- OH THE BRAND EXTENSIONS! Luckett is the only brand in the world who can credibly name a collection of wines Phone Box Red, Phone Box White, and new for 2023, Phone Box Rosé. Besides the fact that these are delicious wines even for locals, what tourist who’s visited the winery and taken photos and called home on that rotary phone WOULDN’T also want to take home a wine called “Phone Box?” It’s not easy for a winery to get people to remember the names of all their different types of wines. These are unforgettable.
- It’s an opportunity to have fun…everywhere. Their website’s home page touts “wines worth calling home about.” It’s little things like that which make this entire concept so fabulous. There’s always a way to weave the phone box subtly and cleverly into the brand’s marketing. And kudos to Luckett, they never devolve into the realm of cheesy with it. Everything is done with an edgy sophistication.
And the real gem of a lesson behind this brilliant tourism marketing case study? There was no grand master branding plan involved when they originally decided to do this. It was just a fun, cool idea tossed out one day by their vineyard manager, Marcel Kolb. It just seemed like something whimsical that would give visitors something unexpected to remember. But the owner, Pete Luckett (a British Canadian who was born in Nottingham, England), loved the idea and immediately started making calls to buy one for the vineyard.
All the other nitty gritty details that make this such a brilliant marketing case study came later. It all started with “this is cool, let’s just make it happen.” And then – very wisely – they built upon it to give it brand equity. If they had just stuck the phone box out there among the vines, and never absorbed it into their DNA, it would lack the branding power it has today. Instead, they gave it a stronger foothold and made it part of their identity. Not ALL of their identity. Just enough to set them apart. Super smart.
Parting tip: if you go visit, try their Fizz, which is my fave. But then again, I’m a notorious bubbly drinker, so perhaps I’m biased.
And here are a few related topics you may find of interest:
Six cool examples of marketing.
The secret to a great tourism photo.
Four brilliant and unexpected marketing partnerships.