Cognition Studio, Inc.

strategic communications for life sciences

2014 Napa Valley Film Festival Brand Campaign

December 18, 2014
By Taylor Raquer
Taylor Raquer's picture
Thu, 12/18/2014 - 14:05 -- Taylor Raquer

The Challenge

Over a year in the making, The Napa Valley Film Festival and Cognition Studio partnered to deliver a re-envisioned brand campaign to increase awareness, generate higher attendance than the previous year, and allow attendees to visualize themselves in the festival experience.

The Napa Valley Film Festival is distinctly unique. It pairs the best new independent films and studio sneak previews from around the world with the wine, food, locations and hospitality that have made the Napa Valley legendary. Aspirational lifestyle consumers, film lovers and tastemakers of all ages are looking for a festival to cater to each of these specific desires.

In the festival’s make-or-break fourth year, a novel approach had to be taken.

Re-imagining of the experience was centered on engagement with the three pillars of film, food and wine, and positioning the festival as a not-to-be missed California cultural event.

Showcasing the deeper and more personal side of the festival’s spirit into each marketing piece excites the senses with unique combinations of stories, characters, and visuals. Inspired by magazine design – full-bleed imagery, interview articles, and playful typography – a piece emerged that festival-goers continued to clutch and flip through throughout their time at the festival.

The website and social media played a key role in festival-goer loyalty. Constant information and real-time media reporting keep a perpetual buzz up to, during, and after the festival. A main goal for the new digital presence was to become a core portal for Festival information and brand engagement offering rich content about films, venues, wineries, restaurants, featured chefs and special events. Color coding, type systems and content hierarchy aid in users quickly understanding the structure of the data, making the experience with the information easy and engaging. An all-encompassing Festival “pocket-guide” was present with the mobile component.

Drupal CMS theme development and implementation by

“Over 50,000 unique users have visited the site in the few months since launch.”

“Multi-day pass sales have exceeded goals, helping us realize that the site showcases all aspects of the experience better than our old site. The ability to give chefs and wineries equal visibility to films and filmmakers, we have transitioned from a film festival site, to a site generating content in each of these core brand focuses. And consumers want to fully understand an event before converting and this site does it amazingly well.”

– Jason Redmond, Audience Development Director, Napa Valley Film Festival


The Roll-out

Immersing in the festival became a constant game of surprise and delight. The flow of colored festival passes, bold signage at venues, touches of the logo on wine glasses, and excitement from fesitival-goers showed the life and energy of a festival so far beyond its years.

Lines wrapped around the corner at every film showing. Late night parties were packed to the brim, and hands shot in the air at each Q&A showing. Tables lined the floors of venues offering culinary tastes from leading chefs in the community. Wine was an underlying tone of everything that occured at the festival. It facilitated vintner circle dinners, comfort at film screenings, and an enhancer of all late-night activities. The film experience was rich, inviting, and constant spreading across the four villages from morning to night.

Signage at the festival was newly created for this year with a sprinkling of sponsor brand touch-points. From on-screen slides, merch, venue boards, and even VIP car decals and an ice sculpture, the festival felt fresh and informative for visitors.

The comprehensive brand strategy designed for all content platforms seamlessly transitioned into an experience that will continue to evolve and morph into a national recognized brand. As 2014 comes to a close, and Oscar hopefuls begin to chatter, the festival will remain a steady source for all things film, food and wine.

The 2014 wrap exceeded all sales goals, community interest, and sponsor/vendor partnerships achieving great success for the Napa Valley Film Festival. The integrated partnership between teams allowed this vision to be realized. The extreme growth poses new challenges for festival moving into 2015.

The Napa Valley Film Festival website has been named a Webpick of the Week by the prestigious Communication Arts magazine’s online companion, Visit

View more on this project in our Work Section