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Digital marketing risks being a ‘vanity project,’ says UK head of Champagne brand Lanson

Digital marketing has had a troublesome year so far, with Facebook having measurement problems, YouTube apologizing for serving up ads next to extremist content and ad fraud hitting the headlines.

And for Champagne brand Lanson, digital marketing should be approached with caution, according to Paul Beavis, its U.K. and international managing director.

"You definitely have to have a message that's on digital but I don't think you want to have a vanity project where it's all about the brand," he told Carolin Roth, anchor of CNBC's Marketing Media Money show.

Beavis is also concerned about the volume of marketing messages and says the companies approach to marketing is "sensible". "(What) we want to be careful of is, we just don't want to create lots of 'wallpaper' for the sake of it and a lot of noise," he said.

"I think it's probably just the bombardment of a massive amount of digital coming in at people all the time. So I just wonder how we can really create cut through in that space."

A bottle of Lanson champagne at the Wimbledon tennis championships in July 2017
Steven Paston | Getty Images
A bottle of Lanson champagne at the Wimbledon tennis championships in July 2017

Like many luxury brands, Lanson finds that print media works to get its message across, as well as sponsorship of events. High-end brands still spend most of their marketing budgets on print advertising, according to figures from media agency Zenith published in April.

Events provide 10 percent of sales of Lanson Champagne, and it sponsors Chesterton's Polo in the Park, held at London's Hurlingham Park, while this year it launched an organic cuvee at the annual Wimbledon tennis tournament. It has also runs events in Sylt, Germany and sponsored a food festival on Sydney's Bondi Beach.

When it comes to newer Champagne drinkers, they want to learn, Beavis said, so Lanson created "The Little Black Book of Champagne," sent free to people who register for a copy online.

"I think it's fair to say that the millennials are very interested in learning. They want to be educated but they don't want to be talked down to, they want to find things on their own in their own way, whether it's digital or through print."

Champagne owes its success to marketing, according to John Stimpfig, content director at Decanter magazine.

"Champagne has been around for hundreds of years. And the Champenoise (champagne makers) have been the most brilliant marketeers par excellence in the world. And so they've succeeded in convincing everybody that this is the wine of celebration," he told Marketing Media Money.

Marketing Media Money will be aired tonight at 22.00 on CNBC International.