Britain's biggest Aussie wine brand, Hardys, has turned around deteriorating sales through a combination of lower-priced NPD and sponsorship of hit C4 show Come Dine With Me.

While sales of the Constellation Europe wine have slumped 8.7% to £222.5m over the past year [Nielsen 52w/e 3 October], sales leapt 35% in the past 13 weeks.

The recession was to blame for the wider decline of the Australian brand, said Clare Griffiths, Constellation Europe VP of marketing. She admitted the oversupply of Australian wine and weak exchange rate had hit the company's profitability. However, its move to provide recession-hit consumers with more affordable wines, such as the June launch of Hardys' mainstream entry-level ranges Voyage and Bin 53, had helped improve sales.

"By the end of the year we expect to be back in positive MAT growth," said Griffiths. "This is a major turnaround for Hardys. We recognised we needed the right brands on shelf."

The sales recovery was lent momentum in September when Hardys became sponsor of Come Dine With Me, said Griffiths. The advertisements featured before, during and after the programme to reinforce the link between Hardy's and dining at home.

To maximise sales ahead of the key Christmas sales period, Hardys is adding a multimillion pound festive twist to the idents, running from tomorrow until the end of December. With 2.5 million viewers a week, Mike Parker, Channel 4's head of strategic sales, said: "Brands were queuing up to sponsor Come Dine With Me as it's such an easy sell."

Griffiths claimed 73% of the UK's adult population or 35 million people will have seen the new idents by the end of the year.

Hardys will accompany the TV push with promotional activity in multiple grocers. This includes a gondola end promotion in Sainsbury's, signposted by Come Dine With Me posters in store car parks and Sainsbury's Magazine, and cross-promotion in Tesco, where consumers buying two bottles of Hardys Nottage Hill will receive a free cookbook.