Tuesday, April 29, 2008

From the Londonist:

"If a few months from now you’re sipping a cocktail at one of London’s trendier cocktail bars and you notice a few squishy gold flecked bubbly pearls floating around in your glass, don’t be alarmed; that’s just Cointreau Caviar. Yes, Londonist has seen (and sipped) the future of booze, and it’s ridiculously over the top, rather tasty and derived from a scientific molecular mixology process.

Last night saw Cointreau’s London launch of what it has dubbed Cointreau Caviar: solid iridescent pearls of Cointreau liqueur with edible flakes of 24-carat gold inside. The pearls have the look and consistency of, well, caviar and add a nice little burst of ‘ooh’ to a drink. The process to make the Cointreau Caviar involves a simple laboratory-style technique and a few natural ingredients … and turns bartenders into mad scientists. As of yet, no London spots are serving what Cointreau calls an “innovative and startlingly transformation set to create a whole new wave of cocktail culture,” a claim Londonist finds a bit difficult to swallow. However, our sources suggest that come summer, a few drinking establishments of note will be adding these morsels to their line up. We hope to keep you posted. Cointreau reckons their caviar can be added to a range of cocktails such as cosmopolitans or used to enhance even the bubbliest glass of champagne. Hey, why not?"

Photography by Chris Osburn.

Interesting commentary on the effects of economic downturn and the Absolut issue from Wine and Spirits Daily.

"How is the economy affecting Fortune Brands’ spirits portfolio? That’s the million dollar question. Most of the spirits companies (other than Brown-Forman) have been reluctant to admit that the U.S. economy has taken much of a toll. The general consensus is that consumers view spirits as an “affordable luxury.” Sure, there might be a slowdown in value spirits brands, but premium and super-premiums continue to grow. In an age of premiumization and trading up, spirits companies are generally more concerned with their premium and up brands anyways. Most spirits companies also seem to think they will have no problem bouncing back from a slowdown and that the dawning recession is merely temporary. Declines in the on-premise are perhaps the biggest thorn for distillers, but most claim it’s not a significant change.

“What we have seen a little bit is a little less consumption at bars and restaurants and more people buying at their local liquor store, but it's not that significant,” Fortune ceo Bruce Carbonari told WSJ earlier this month.

In the first quarter, spirits sales were flat in the U.S., but Fortune says some of that was a result of larger-than-usual seasonal reductions in distributor inventories.

"While our reported spirits sales were relatively flat, shipments of spirits were adversely impacted in the U.S. by larger-than-usual seasonal reductions in distributor inventories that don't reflect the health of our brands in the marketplace," Carbonari said in a statment. "Had distributor inventory movements been consistent with the prior year, our worldwide spirits sales would have been solidly higher.”

Spirits sales increased at the premium end of the portfolio, reflecting favorable mix shift and Fortune’s continued focus on growing premiums. On a depletions basis, Fortune’s global premium brands grew in the U.S. and demonstrated strong growth in the U.K., Spain and Germany, as well as in Russia, India and China."


First quarter depletions for Jim Beam were off in the first quarter, but Fortune is still expecting another strong year for Beam. The next generation of Jim Beam’s market campaign will rollout in the second quarter.

Sauza had lower shipments overall in the quarter due to inventory movements and tough comps. Depletions were strong in the U.S., however, and super-premium Sauza Hornitos continued to see strong growth.

Courvoisier increased double digit net sales on strong increases in the U.S. Maker’s Mark also experienced strong depletions overall.

WEAKENING ECONOMY. There was a lot of economy talk in today’s conference call. Overall, Fortune maintains that the economy has not had a large impact on spirits sales, although it has taken a toll (albeit it small) on value brands and the on-premise. Florida and California in particular have experienced a slowdown.

“We have seen no significant changes in the U.S. market...we’ve seen some change on-premise versus off-premise...geographic slowdowns correlates to the housing market, which we are seeing most heavily in Florida and California, especially on-premise,” said Carbonari.

“We have not seen the softening U.S. economy have a meaningful impact on total consumer demand...we benefit from our strong premium position,” cfo Craig Omtvedt.

“We had a good Christmas season...we have not seen trading down. The premium brands grow more than the value side and we’ve seen this trend for awhile now. The cocktail is still an affordable luxury and people aren’t willing to give that up. We’ve seen very little trade down at this point,” said Carbonari."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Again from Jean at NotCot heres some activity from 1800 Tequila - I like the comment at the end: "totally random… but does anyone else find themselves reading 1800 Tequila as 1-800-TEQUILA?"

"Prepare to see Tequila in a whole new light… especially if you live in SF, Chicago, Detroit, or Atlanta, where the first set of 1800 Tequila Artist billboards are now popping up to show off some of their beautiful and crazy Limited Edition bottle collaborations! And rolling out soon will also be chances for people to submit art for upcoming billboards/bottles… and SNEAKERS!

From the press release:

A unique mix of palette and palate, this new initiative celebrates the talents of nine artists — Jorge Alderete (Mexico City) , Jeremy Bacharach (Chicago), Glenn Barr (Detroit), Will Chambers (Chicago), Chris Dean (Detroit), Kim Dosa (Atlanta), Josh Ellingson (Oakland), Hannah Stouffer (Oakland) and Urban Medium (Atlanta) — who have been commissioned to design collectible limited edition bottles. (There are only 1800 of each design, which will be available for a Pop Art price of $34.99 at high-end liquor stores).

The specially commissioned artworks will be unveiled as part of an $8million outdoor advertising and promotional campaign across the country — a new-generation museum that brings art to the people. For those who are unable to view the high-impact billboards in person, the campaign will also be available online at www.1800Tequila.com.

See my favorite bottle/billboards after the jump!"

This reminds me vividly of Bong Vodka's campaign - Spirit of the Brand that we posted about in August 2007 and also of the work that Flavorpill and Absolut/Bud Select have done in the past too.

NotCot is brilliant. Look at what Jean got sent recently. Her post highlights the importance of blogger PR and remarkable packaging.

"Mmmm matte black box, tied up in leather cord, sealed with a big glossy wax seal… along with an enticing black envelope sealed with a matching wax seal, containing silver sheets of paper… it was far too fun to bust open this latest press release to land on my doorstep this morning and discover this beautiful bottle of the freshly launched “100 proof, 100 percent agave, super-premium tequila”, 1800 Silver Select Tequila. This comes from the 1800 Tequila folks (who just started the crazy billboard artist collab campaign i told you about earlier this week)… Really, the unboxing experience was too fun not to share, see the pictures below.

My favorite quotes from the press release… “If James Bond had to give up his martini, shaken, not stirred, he’d switch to 1800 Select Silver”… “For a male-oriented, status-conscious market, driven by luxury and opulence, in which authenticity and perception is all, ordering the best is what counts”… “This is a premium drink for the bon vivant who requests his single malt scotch by name, and who will now be equally fastidious about his favorite brand of tequila.” I love the marketing speak - these made me giggle a bit, and hey marketers, we ladies like our premium drinks and single malt scotches too!

So seeing as i just woke up, and tequila isn’t quite how i start my mornings… i haven’t taken a shot yet, but will update later with how this “raises smooth to new heights”… but for now, be intrigued, and see the pics after the jump of how much fun this gorgeous packaging is!"

Great coverage for 1800 Silver Tequila. And the shot glass in the lid thing has sparked a bit of conversation too... See the video below.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

From the ever brilliant Springwise expanding on their notion of Tryvertising - or sampling as we call it:

"Wine may be enjoying new popularity, but that doesn't mean the average consumer isn't still daunted by the knowledge it takes to pick a bottle they'll like. We've written about several efforts to simplify the process, and now WineSide is taking a novel approach by offering wines packaged in sample-sized tubes.

WineSide offers both sweet and classic wines in patented, flat-base glass tubes with screw tops carefully engineered to protect the wines' flavour. The sweet wines—which include Sauternes and Muscat, for example—are available in 6cl tubes, while the Pomerol, Chateau Neuf du Pape and other classic wines can be purchased in 6cl or 10cl sizes. WineSide's collection represents a range of appellations and producers; tubes are available individually or by the box, which can be chosen to provide an introduction to a variety, year or region. Kicking off retail sales, the products are available exclusively at Colette in Paris this month.

In addition to giving consumers a new way to sample and discover wines, WineSide's tube format also promises to give vintners new tryvertising capabilities at relatively low cost. The French company's website is still under construction, but it says it is looking for distributors. One to get in on early!"

Sounds neat and looks very smart. Plus the link with Colette is guaranteed to get them trendy coverage and make them seem desirable. But isn't selling little bits of wine to Parisians a bit like selling sunshine to the Sahara?

Here is the latest deisgner collaboration between Karim Rashid and Veuve Cliquot. Setting the standard in the drinks world for collabroations that are both practical/functional as well as being visually stunning and PR worthy. Who wouldn't want a pink champagne bucket/chandelier.

As pointed on Where's the Sausage in relation to previous collaborations:

"Secondary packaging. Snore, right? Boring boxes. Catatonic cartons. Well, not if you're champagne brand Veuve Clicquot.

They have turned secondary packaging into an artform and this has played an important role in making the most stylish champagne. More importantly, its also helped them become the world's number 2 premium champagne, with a 23% share of the all-important US market.

On New Year's eve I tried out the box that turns magically into an ice bucket, and it actually works! A remarkable bit of packagaing design, with plastic seals to make it watertight. The Paint Box has four mini bottles in a funky yellow ice bucket that looks like a paint can. And the limited edition version of La Grande Dame by Andre Putman would make the perfect present for someone (very) special."

Here's some quotes from the Media Kit that Nourinda sent me:

"Veuve Clicquot Rosé inspires Karim Rashid:

Globalight is an innovative and unique reinterpretation of a chandelier. For a moment… so romantic… so rosé… so Veuve Clicquot

Created by Karim Rashid, the limited-edition Veuve Clicquot Globalight is an invitation to romanticism. This ultra contemporary chandelier creates a soft pink halo of light and a dream like atmosphere wherever it goes. It transforms an intimate candle lit dinner between partners or friends. It keeps Veuve Clicquot Rosé at the ideal temperature for 2 hours.

Veuve Clicquot Globalight is a state-of-the-art technology and design piece. The highly sophisticated system provides light without warming the lamp and transferring heat to the bottle of champagne. Zumbotel, a world expert in lighting, has conceived and manufactured this unique and complex technology. The pink light is the heart of this unique piece and it creates a romantic ambiance wherever it goes.

The wine has a luminous colour with an attractive pink hue. The wine works its magic - this delectably full champagne can be enjoyed as a true delicacy. A deliciously fruity wine in early bloom, this is a wonderful aperitif to be shared as a twosome or simply with friends. Its superb rosé colour adds a daring, contemporary and romantic touch!

“When Veuve Clicquot asked me to design a new project for their champagne, to continue the sensual integration of the immaterial and the material as I had done with the Loveseat, I immediately drew an elliptical scribble around the VC rose bottle as if to denote the intent – this is what I must do – and thought how could I bring light and champagne together? – and suddenly realized that my scribble was the idea in itself – ‘surround the bottle with illumination’ – embrace the bottle with a dynamic energetic magnetism – encapsulate the bottle with warmth, so I literally made an elliptical object and designed Globalight – like a purse, or a handbag, the ovaloid vignettes the champagne – lights it, glorifies it, and embraces the fabulous pleasurable experience of drinking my favorite champagne."

And here is what Veuve say about Karim Rashid

"A world renowned designer, an iconic creator of design and light pieces, and a source of daring, playful, minimalism and sensual inspiration – Karim Rashid collaborates with the House of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin for the second time. Following the release of the “Veuve Clicquot Loveseat”, Karim Rashid drew inspiration from Veuve Clicquot Rosé to create “Globalight”, a multi functional design object representing modern romanticism.

An award winning English-Egyptian artist living in New-York, Karim Rashid is a leading figure in the fields of product and interior design, furniture, lighting and art. His work is in the permanent collections of 15 Museums world wide including MoMA in NY."

It's a win-win-win-win for Rashid, Veuve, the trade and consumers. It premiumises Veuve, gains awareness and desire for their trendy rose and gets a lot of talkability. Coolhunting is covering it so chances are it will appear in Sunday Supplements and so forth in the run up to Spring and Summer. Perfect.

From Coolhunting:

"Limited to a run of 500 (only 50 of those will be available for the U.S. market), the Globalight will be available on Eclicquot in May for $4,000."

In addition, tactically Nourinda's emails were very clever. The story was embargoed until Wednesday. But a few bloggers broke this just because bloggers like to break rules. Much better to say not to do something because bloggers are likely to do the opposite. So then she sent an email out lifting the embargo and opened the blogging floodgates. Very clever online PR.

Bloggers were sent 5 key visuals shown in this post as well as a "media kit" featuring a beautfully presented rationale for the design. Good learnings for everyone at Beam about how to do online PR and luxury marketing.

For other Veuve designer collaboration posts click here for the Porsche design work and here for the Karim Rashid loveseat.

And I've just noticed that there is a proper review of the Veueve design theme on NotCot - so take a look.

And you have to have a look at their design workshop microsite which is very slick - and seems very genuine. Reminds of the Audi design studio.

Monday, April 14, 2008

NotCot has picked up the collaboration between Courvoisier and LRG to promote Courvoisier's Exclusif cognac that is great for cocktails.

Here's the roundup from NotCot with pictures.

"On collabs i didn’t see coming… Courvoisier is going all out on their new Exclusif Cognac! Including a multi-city tour (LA, SF, Houston, Miami, NY) this spring to show off an exclusive line designed by urban/skate brand LRG, inspired by Courvoisier… including a Napoleon Rubberband Jacket.

Ok, but seriously, we both know that’s not why i’m posting this. What grabbed me is that they even customized some limited edition gadgetry - iPhones, Blackberries, and iPods to be specific, and i’m surprised, but i’m kind of loving the the napoleonic/spy logo thing thats going on, and while orange isn’t usually my color, this shade is kind of interesting on electronics… check out more sneak peeks after the jump!"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Our chilie plants are growing apace. As are our sunflowers...

Here's a quick update and some ingenious horticultural techniques.

How it all started

Agave Chile

Bird of paradise chile

And look at them now. Ed is the proud owner of the largest plant which is now beginning to flower!

Ed and his chilies

Meanwhile Oli has been very successful with his sunflowers...

Oli and his clever sunflower technique

If you look closely you can see Oli's ingenius bulldog clip method. Charlie Dimmock... take a leaf!

Oli tending to his sunfolowers

And here are Mary Anna's mini sunflowers...

Sunflower plant

We are anticipating our first harvest in May!

From the Consumerist:

"Absolut is running an ad in Mexico that some in this country are finding offensive because it favorably depicts our borders as they existed before the 1848 Mexican-American war. We're going to bite and talk about the ad even though it means that the advertisers win and America dies just a bit more.

The campaign taps into the national pride of Mexicans, according to Favio Ucedo, creative director of leading Latino advertising agency Grupo Gallegos in the U.S.

Ucedo, who is from Argentina, said: "Mexicans talk about how the Americans stole their land, so this is their way of reclaiming it. It's very relevant and the Mexicans will love the idea."

But he said that were the campaign to run in the United States, it might fall flat.

"Many people aren't going to understand it here. Americans in the East and the North or in the center of the county — I don't know if they know much about the history.

"Probably Americans in Texas and California understand perfectly and I don't know how they'd take it."

Meanwhile, the campaign has been circulating on the blogs and generating strong responses from people north of the border.

"I find this ad deeply offensive, and needlessly divisive. I will now make a point of drinking other brands. And 'vodka and tonic' is my drink," said one visitor, called New Yorker, on MexicoReporter.com.

Reader Paul Green goes into a discussion on the blog Gateway Pundit of whether the U.S. territories ever belonged to Mexico in the first place, and the News12 Long island site invited people to boycott Absolut, with one user, called LivingSmall, writing: "If you drink Absolut vodka, you can voice your approval or disapproval of this advertising campaign with your purchases. I know I will be switching to Grey Goose or Stoli and will never have another bottle of Absolut in my house.

Um, honestly, we didn't pick up the history thing at first glance. We heard it was running in Mexico and immediately understood the intrinsic appeal. As far as we can tell, it's cute and funny and will obviously incite hordes of Mexicans to race north against earthquakes to reclaim our once-picturesque frontier. Watch out, Alta Californians!"

People are certainly talking about it! You can vote on whether you think it's cool or crap or not worth bothering about here. But if you think it's not worth bothering about you might want to consider contradicting yourself by voting!

For what seems like a fairly comprehensive collection of Absolut's new range of ads click here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Probably best to let these images from the Darling Barred campaign speak for themselves along with this article from Sky News.

From the Publicis Contagious Newsletter:

"Traveling abroad can be tricky; coping with language barriers and jet lag puts us in a state of almost constant confusion. When touring for sporting events, these effects can be multiplied, thanks to the heady potential of victory -or dramatic failure - mixed with alcohol and adrenalin.

In a nifty and insightful campaign to mark its sponsorship as the official beer of the Hong Kong Sevens rugby tournament, Guinness, through OgilvyOne Worldwide, Hong Kong, has launched a mobile application to help the estimated 20,000 overseas visitors to navigate the city and cope with the language barrier.

The campaign, supported by mobile experts the Hyperfactory and mobile city and phrasebook creators XS2TheWorld, offers a ‘passport to greatness’ containing useful information about the tournament to be accessed via mobile. Fans can use their mobiles to discover match schedules, team selections, stadium information and a city guide to Hong Kong, as well as reviews of matches and maps, with locations of Guinness-serving establishments highlighted.

But all that is nothing compared to the application’s top feature, broadcasting key phrases in Cantonese through mobile handsets’ loudspeakers, to help visitors make themselves understood. The pre-progammed phrases include asking for numerous addresses around the city, including key stadium locations, directions to ATMs, and, of course, another round of Guinness please.

The passport can be downloaded from www.guinness.com.hk/xtra and then Hong Kong is your oyster."

From the ever brilliant Springwise...

"The personalization trend shows no sign of abating, and companies far and wide continue to step up with ever-new ways to let consumers customize their tea, their cereal and their Fruit Roll-Ups—among many others. Now spirits maker Pernod Ricard has come up with an interesting twist on the idea by giving consumers the ability to order customized product labels alone.

Pernod Ricard's customized label program, which has actually been around for a few years, allows US residents (over 21, of course) to order personalized labels for Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, Jacob's Creek, Kahlua, Mumm Napa and Wild Turkey Russell’s Reserve. What's interesting is that rather than offering custom label options as part of a larger product order for the drinks themselves, such as what myJones does, Pernod Ricard lets customers order just labels, and at no charge. An assortment of styles are available for each brand, including holiday, wedding and sailing themes, with room for up to seven lines of text. Consumers can then affix the labels over the original ones on bottles they obtained elsewhere; up to 5 labels can be ordered per e-mail address.

By separating the label offering from orders for the core product, Pernod Ricard achieves a number of desirable ends in one easy step. Not only does it reduce the associated shipping costs and broaden the audience that will be interested in engaging with the brand, it also gains the tremendous goodwill associated with giving away something for free. Free love is attractive enough, but when it's personalized? It doesn't get much better than that!"

Impressive to see this being rolled out across a range of brands rather than just the isolated use of personalisation by Johnnie Walker.


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