Last week I was invited to a Scharffen Berger chocolate and wine pairing event at a local waterfront restaurant, Waterbar. As you might imagine, I accepted this invitation immediately. As is the norm, I wasn’t sure the actual format for this event (dinner? snacks? sit down or mingling? small gathering or large? bloggers only or others?), but it did not disappoint. And they told us about their new advertising campaign, which is actually really creative and engaging.
To start — the event. They rented out a small-ish room on the second floor of the restaurant which has a balcony that overlooks the bay and the bridge. It was beautiful! They had chocolate samples, an open bar station with wine and cocktails, and a few cocktails for people to chat around. My friend, Kate, and I spent a bit of time talking with John Sharffenberger about chocolate and wine and Netflix shows as we enjoyed a delicious selection of roving appetizers (ex: tuna tartar, crab cakes, stuffed pasta bites).
Kate and me with Scharffen Berger execs, including John Scharffenberger
Mr. Sharffenberger gave a bit of a speech, as did some of the other executives and marketing people, which told us a bit about the company, and then explained their new marketing campaign: wonderfully complicated. It’s a great idea — chocolate, along with red wine, is one of the most complex foods (like, scientifically), engaging a myriad of unique taste sensors in your mouth. Weaving in the uniqueness of each of their customers, they came up with the term “wonderfully complicated” to describe both their product, and the people who consume it.
John Scharffenberger gives a speech
Another speech with me in the foreground
The ingenious way they’ve incorporated this into a marketing strategy is via Instagram. Take a picture of yourself and post it to Instagram with the hashtag #wonderfullycomplicated. After you do so, Scharffen Berger will re-post your selfie overlain with three random descriptors that could be used to describe chocolate or, indeed, you. They display these on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. AND, as a bonus to SF folks only, if you geotag your location, your photo will appear on the bus stop ad nearest you:
I really liked how interactive and clever this idea is. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s a win-win for the company and the customers. Good job marketing people!
The event then moved to the wine and chocolate pairing, where we all gathered around the cocktail tables and were instructed how to try a variety of different wines, and how to “pair” them with certain chocolates. It was very interesting how the flavor of the wines changed as you munched on a certain type of chocolate. It was delicious and fun!
Wine and chocolate pairing
After the tasting, a delicious buffet of food arrived, and we all enjoyed chips and guac, shrimp tacos, fish tacos, chicken skewers, lobster rolls, and more. It was quite a party! As we finally made our way to leave, the lovely hosts from the PR firm suggested we each take home a flower arrangement, complete with adhered chocolate decorations; a gift bag with a bottle of wine and TEN (yes, ten) chocolate bars of different varieties; and a poster (probably 18″x24″) that they had somehow made using a photo they took of us upon our arrival (I hadn’t thought anything of it at the time) and had printed into one of their ad campaign formats with three words overlaying our smiling faces. It was great!
The whole thing was really well done — great food, delicious chocolate, amazing location — and was just a whole lot of fun. And now I can’t wait to get one of my #wonderfullycomplicated selfies up on Instagram!