Why Not Wine?

Campaign to Get Wine in Grocery Stores








Although many states allow the sale of wine in grocery stores, Tennessee state laws have historically prohibited it. Realizing it would require a multi-year campaign to convince legislators, in 2008 the Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association (TGCSA) made a long-term decision to press for the reform.

Teams for public relations and lobbying worked closely with the grocers and their partners to create a platform for Tennesseans to show legislators their support for wine sales in retail food stores.













During the first year of the campaign, Atkinson and McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations conducted a statewide survey of 500 registered voters to measure existing attitudes and develop key messages.

The team then launched Red White and Food, a statewide grassroots campaign to mobilize consumers in support of the change. Elements of the campaign included:

  • Statewide media relations – releases, op/eds, interviews, editorial boards
  • Coalitions with interested third parties, including the Tennessee Retail Association and Tennessee Farm Wineries Association
  • Participation in legislative hearings
  • Red White and Food membership recruitment
  • Event for members hosted by legislative sponsors of bill
  • Website creation
  • Weekly blog posts
  • Fliers
  • Lapel stickers
  • Bumper stickers

In the following years, the team continued these successful initiatives and added:

  • Extensive social media focus – Facebook group, Twitter happy hours
  • Regular e-mails to members
  • Enhancements to website
  • Displays in grocery stores with membership cards for people to join the campaign
  • Increased rapid-response capabilities to counter the opposition’s arguments
  • Implementation of GetActive, an online system that makes it easy for consumers to write their legislators, become members, and refer friends
  • Launch of the Red White and Food Voters Political Action Committee


Although the law is not yet changed, TGCSA plans to continue the push in 2012 and add to the substantial progress that was made in galvanizing widespread public and media support in the first four years. Since the campaign started:

  • More than 27,000 campaign members
  • Total of 1,500 media placements (90 percent favorable)
  • More than 10,000 Facebook group and page members
  • Nearly 1,300 Twitter followers

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