Log In / Join Now

New Game Plan as Yellow Tail Charges Back to the Super Bowl

The brand returns wine to the airwaves, but with an entirely new ad theme, "Tastes Like Happy"; here's how they made it happen
While Yellow Tail Guy has been retired, fans of very goofy dudes will still find much to like in the brand's 2019 ad.
Photo by: Courtesy of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits
While Yellow Tail Guy has been retired, fans of very goofy dudes will still find much to like in the brand's 2019 ad.

Posted: January 30, 2019

The Shiraz is going back to the Super Bowl! On Sunday, Yellow Tail will return to the airwaves for the third year in a row, matching the latest streak of consecutive appearances the New England Patriots have made in the championship game and the Los Angeles Rams have made in the National Football League. This year, however, Yellow Tail and importer Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits are debuting an entirely new ad campaign, "Tastes Like Happy," which toasts such happy occasions as "lifelong bonds and well-deserved promotions" and "the online date who actually looks like their profile picture."

"It just felt like it's kind of a great moment in time to share images and moments that are probably seen as universally happy at a time when the country doesn't agree on a lot of stuff," Deutsch Family president Tom Steffanci told Unfiltered.

It's a departure from the past two years' irreverent duo of mascots Yellow Tail Guy and Roo, and before 2017, no wine commercials had appeared at all in the big game since 1988.

"When we first did this, we thought it was going to be a one-year investment," Steffanci recalled. That year, sales of the most-imported brand in the U.S., made by Australian company Casella, were trending down about 5 percent. But in January and February 2017, growth spiked 8 percent, with the following February improving another 5 percent. By some metrics, these are the most sluggish wine sales months of the year; they are now Yellow Tail's strongest. This year, Deutsch Family will spend slightly under $6 million to reach an estimated audience of 100 million. The company hopes to post an additional 2 percent growth in sales in each of those months.

The creation process for this year's ad began with about five different campaign ideas, put in front of focus groups of consumers, Steffanci told us. "As we came up with, 'What are these moments that our consumers would associate with happiness and Yellow Tail?' it was kind of a natural progression to say, 'Well, why don't we allow consumers to suggest what that might look like?'" And so a video contest was born: Entrants were invited to create 6-second videos, and the two winning clips would be woven into the 30-second Super Bowl ad. (Eagle-eyed viewers should look for a salsa dancer on the beach and a woman on a rope swing.)

As in previous years, Deutsch Family has had to get creative to circumvent Anheuser-Busch InBev's exclusive national rights to advertising alcohol during the game, instead placing local ad buys piecemeal. In 2019, that will be 81 markets, to reach an estimated 90 to 95 percent of total viewers.

New "Tastes Like Happy" spots will appear later on TV, YouTube, Hulu and Yellow Tail's social media platforms, although Deutsch has not yet decided if they'll be returning in 2020's Super Bowl LIV. As for Yellow Tail Guy and Roo, "like all hardworking, successful people, they are enjoying their retirement," no doubt keeping the Chardonnay on ice on a beach somewhere for Rob Gronkowski.

Enjoy Unfiltered? The best of Unfiltered's round-up of drinks in pop culture can now be delivered straight to your inbox every other week! Sign up now to receive the Unfiltered e-mail newsletter, featuring the latest scoop on how wine intersects with film, TV, music, sports, politics and more.

Would you like to comment? Want to join or start a discussion?

Become a WineSpectator.com member and you can!
To protect the quality of our conversations, only members may submit comments. Member benefits include access to more than 315,000 reviews in our Wine Ratings Search; a first look at ratings in our Insider, Advance and Tasting Highlights; Value Wines; the Personal Wine List/My Cellar tool, hundreds of wine-friendly recipes and more.

WineRatings+ app: Download now for 365,000+ ratings.