Or how to give a bit of soul to collective campaigns

Point of view of Michel Le Roux

Twenty-five years of collective communication have convinced me of one thing: a good campaign is based above all on emotion. Why? Because emotion is present from one end of a product sector to the other. It is contained in the terroir of origin and the culture permeates it. It is in the look of a farmer gauging a sky filled with hail. It is expressed in the desire that men and women have to make a good wine or to age an AOP (identified origin) cheese. In short, emotion is intimately linked with the conception and then the development of beautiful products.


However, while this emotion can be transmitted quite well to the local consumer, it is not the same when crossing borders. We should never assume that foreign consumers spontaneously feel the emotional impact of so-called “identity” products. This is an obvious cultural fact and this phenomenon becomes stronger for countries with lesser culinary traditions. It is therefore necessary to be empathic and to create a link.

To cite one concrete example, we responded with Etienne Laporte (wine consultant), a few years ago, to a tender offer for the promotion of French wines in the Netherlands. The problem with French wines was (and still is) that there is too broad a range which is consequently intimidating for consumers. We therefore carefully avoided any ‘push’ strategy focused on the qualities of the AOC/VDP (designation of origin/local wine) offer and we started from the principle that if France has an extremely wide assortment, we can conclude that for each consumption occasion in the Netherlands there is at least one corresponding French wine. Drawing on the artisanal nature of French wines and their capacity to transmit emotion, we decided that we could side with the consumer and ask him this simple question: “What Wine mood are you in today?”. Whatever your answer, we have the type of wine which suits it. To keep our promise in a consistent fashion, we established an emotional cartography of the wines of France so that, for each mood, we can indicate at least three suitable wines. For example, if a consumer says that he is in a ‘rebellious’ mood, we can suggest a red Menetou Salon or a biodynamic wine, for an ‘adventurous’ mood, we could select a Viogner, a variety that was little known at the time, for a ‘virile’ mood, a Tannat variety, etc.


We launched this concept at trade fairs and consumer events, combining emotion and the senses: a visitor tasting a Côtes de Provence in ‘Relax’ mode, walking on an interactive floor (sea bed) while listening to the music of the Air group with headphones and then going on to the ‘Amorous’ mood with a Saint-Amour and the Amélie Poulain soundtrack, etc. The reactions were enthusiastic.
Immediately afterwards, we carried out a national promotion at Gall&Gall (Ahold Group), the main wine store chain in the Netherlands. Each AOC/VDP wine bore a ring label with the corresponding mood. It was a big success.
Our concept was warmly welcomed by the media for its innovative and above all modular nature, with the moods being adapted easily to the readers’ profiles.

This campaign earned us the Wine Marketing Awards in 2010 and encouraged us to go further still in our thinking …and action.

The following year, we launched the Carousel of Senses within the framework of Stars, Food & Art, a high-level culinary event initiated and hosted by the hotel The Grand in Amsterdam.  The principle was the following: asking the best chef of the Netherlands, the three Michelin-star chef Jonnie Boer, to create five dishes as a function of five of his emotions. Around each dish, we built an ad hoc sensorial universe: visual projections created by a VJ, stage acts, the diffusion of perfumes by an olfactory DJ, eclectic music mixed by a DJ, a female singer.


In June 2015, we repeated the operation from the Carousel for a fund-raising event organized by the Alzheimer Research Foundation in Geneva. To do this, we defined five themes and as many key words linked to the illness. This led to expert and sometimes surrealistic exchanges between three Michelin star chefs (Michel Roth, Benoit Violier and Emmanuel Renaut) and our olfactory specialist Laurence Fanuel (Keva Group at the time). How for example to cook and perfume the hall of the President Wilson Hotel around topics as abstract as Denial, Chaos and Hope? I also heard Emmanuel and Laurence speak of mudfish, nettles, accompanied by a perfume with a marine tone of which the seaweed notes evoke the low tide…of the Alzheimer patient. Four fragrances were created for the occasion, with the evocative names Summer Mandarin, White Cotton, With a Sky So Low and Spark of Life.  The Perfume-Jockey Emmanuel Martini subtly diffused them with his fans, in harmony with the foods.  At the same time, stage, musical and visual performances and creations accompanied the event.


These experimental practices have taught us a lot about the conception and production of ‘tailor-made’ sensorial events. They have also allowed for the building of a unique network of chefs-cooks, artists, outstanding experts and technicians.

Wishing to go further still, Rethinking the Box contacted innovative structures such as Ino-Sens, of which one of the founding partners is Laurence Fanuel. Ino-Sens, located in Grasse, develops applications and scenographies that involve sensorial stimulations intended to increase the emotions experienced, and to improve the interior well-being of people. These multi-sensorial experiences are developed in the coherency of the senses, associating art, science and technology.

We therefore have the experience and the resources required to enrich an event or a campaign.  And to give it a little more soul.

Michel Le Roux