KWV Repositions With Pioneering Trademark Campaign

Saatchi & Saatchi BrandsRock's new campaign marks a first in leading South African wine producer's 97 year history.

Cape Town - KWV, an award-winning, proudly South African brand, is reawakening the spirit of the brand with the launch of its first ever consumer trademark brand campaign, ‘Finish Great’ that communicates the company’s proud heritage and product innovation across spirits and wines that KWV has embodied since 1918. The emotive integrated campaign kicks off today with the flighting of KWV’s first ever TV ad. 

KWV has a long tradition of crafting some of the finest wines and brandies in the world. This is the company’s first consumer brand campaign that stretches across the product worlds of wine and spirits to deliver a consistent brand theme that works across all touch points; providing the foundation for a bold distinctive brand message. 

Tyrone Beck, Creative Director at Saatchi & Saatchi BrandsRock, the ad agency tasked with developing the pioneering campaign for the brand explains: “This is a tribute to the great legacy of KWV, but also demonstrates that by standing on the shoulders of giants, we are inspired to aim higher, to reach even greater heights and inevitably ‘Finish Great’.” 

He adds: “The campaign idea was based on a core insight that through persistence, character is revealed and in everything we do, we strive to finish great,” says Beck. “The heart of KWV is Proud Pioneers brought to life through the spirit of: respecting tradition while challenging convention and through persistence character is revealed. We are telling this story through the campaign theme of ‘On the shoulders of giants’.”

Beck continues: “Giants have stature, they are larger than life and undeniably impressive. We revere them and in South Africa, KWV is a giant, it’s a brand that has a 97 year-old history and credible credentials to support such a bold statement. 

“The story line follows an affirmation to the giants who enable us to Finish Great,” he adds. “We are bringing to life this story with a 360 degree approach, which we will aim to further build on the ‘Giants’ theme through a product-centric print and fully integrated user generated social and digital campaign.”

Beck says that the integrated campaign includes the brands first ever television commercial, amplification via a full PR rollout, experiential activations, iconic out of home billboards, point-of-sale and in-store promotions.

He admits that the task was not easy. “The alcohol marketplace is extremely cluttered, with premium liquor brands playing heavily in the world of inspiration,” he says. “Therefore we strived to achieve a well-considered and creatively consistent visual theme to work across all touch points and to be the foundation for a bold and distinctive message.” 

“This campaign literally dramatizes how, as individuals, we take inspiration from the past – our legacy, our forefathers,” he says. “We look up to them. They inspire us to have the courage to break new ground. Essentially we are all on a journey to master our own crafts, as young South Africans, as young people we work hard at mastering and we follow in the footsteps of masters and pioneers that come before us.”  

KWV’s Head of Strategy, Peadar Hegarty, says that KWV is a company and brand that respects tradition, with a proud legacy of craftsmanship and excellence that stretches back to the early 1900’s. “KWV is a brand that innovates and constantly pushes itself to achieve greater things and this is encapsulated in its entirety in the Finish Great campaign elements,” he adds. 

He says that any great campaign has to have a number of iconic elements but firstly should be rooted in human truth, KWV’s being that persistence reveals character. 

“The finish great message is universal and supports our global growth strategy with a truly international campaign,” Hegarty adds. “KWV is a place where innovation comes alive, where fresh ideas are made possible by building on the great work of yesterday’s pioneers, where convention is constantly challenged, and where new ideas and fresh perspectives are always given the space they deserve.” 

He continues: “We believe this, our first brand trademark campaign, is a campaign worthy of KWV’s pioneering spirit and we are truly excited to deliver this to the world,” he says. “It’s about reawakening the brand spirit through connectivity, innovation, and sustainability and by continuing to produce award-winning wines and spirits,” says Hegarty. 

However, Hegarty adds that this trademark campaign is not only consumer facing. “From a business perspective, the company is switching distribution strategies in a number of global markets and we are working hard to adapt our product offerings to suit the needs of specific markets as well as channel management strategies, ultimately enabling us as a company to continue to Finish Great.” 

In recent years KWV has transformed itself into a global commercial player, exporting award-winning wines and brandies from its main cellar complex in Paarl all over the world. “We distribute our brands in over 100 markets globally, with some of our brands having been available in these markets as far back as the 1920’s,” he adds. 

With one of the largest production capacities of wine and spirits in the Southern Hemisphere as well as being chosen as a distribution partner for some of the world’s most iconic spirits - most recently, Stolichnaya Vodka, Hegarty says, this demonstrates how the company is transforming itself to compete against other brands. 

Through an extensive business strategy and market positioning, KWV has been recognised for producing some of the world’s best wines and brandies.  

“Our attainment of globally recognised awards is testament to this. In the last 4 years we have won over 858 awards of which 307 were achieved in the past year alone,” he says. “We are constantly improving our products to push the boundaries, being at the forefront of winemaking and brandy making innovation and demonstrating great attention to detail and balance.” 

In recent months KWV has been creating industry waves with a number of Finish Great moments, like the launch of the world’s first ‘natural’ Pinotage – Earth’s Essence, made possible by utilising a world first technology; the launch of KWV Heritage XO, SA’s first Cognac brand; and the launch of Nexus, the world’s first 30-year old commercially available potstill brandy. 

KWV’s First Ever TVC

“The TVC brings across the notion of getting to a destination and achieving greatness, whatever the journey may be, that in essence is the meaning of a Finish Great moment,” says Beck. “These moments are demonstrated through vignettes of past and present: a mountaineer summiting the highest peak, a runner sprinting across a finish line and a musician strumming the greatest chord right to the end scene where the current branding and winemaker at KWV toast the pioneers of the past.” 

The final scene in the TVC showcases KWV’s journey to finish great, representing the pinnacle of its brand journey and showcases its products from vine to glass, a proud fulfilment of an incredible odyssey that represents KWV’s master craftsmen. 

The iconic TVC is directed by Sam Coleman of Giant Films. “What makes this commercial so different is that it’s about human endeavour, in past and present, in one frame,” says Coleman. “The production didn’t come without its challenges. We shot for over 18 hours and while shooting one scene other teams had already gone ahead and moved location to create the next ‘world,’ so we could just step into that world and start shooting.” 

According to Coleman, the most challenging aspect was the idea of one of the giants mountaineering, modelled on Sir Edmund Hillary, summiting a snowy peak; and that obviously being in the Southern Hemisphere this presented challenges in successfully replicating the conditions and the ascend of the peak.

Watch the TVC here:

“From business growth, to our awards, to the talents of our brandy and winemaking teams through to this new campaign, Finish Great is our story of a journey of ups and downs true to the journey our wonderful products embark on as they mature to perfection,” concludes KWV’s Hegarty.

For more information visit: or join the conversation on Twitter: @KWVBrandy #FINISHGREAT

Get a behind the scenes look at the making of here: 

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