Brown-Forman debuts ads for Tuaca

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Brown-Forman Corp. is increasing its investment among superpremium spirits with the advertising launch of Italy's Tuaca liqueur.

This is the company's first campaign since obtaining distribution rights for the vanilla- and orange-flavor liqueur in May 1999. The marketer of Jack Daniel's Tennessee whiskey and Southern Comfort has been diversifying with high-end beverages for the past year. Its most recent acquisition came in June with Finlandia vodka, the country's No. 4 imported vodka.

SMALL AT FIRST

Brown-Forman's initial Tuaca ad investment will be just $250,000, but that could triple if successful, said Brand Manager Anita Galvin. Ads will run in weekly alternative newspapers in 14 markets including the strongholds of Baltimore; Dallas; Houston; Reno, Nev.; and San Antonio, as well as the untried markets of Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., Ms. Galvin said.

The amber-color liqueur, which targets 21-to-25-year-olds and generally is consumed in bars as a shot, is competing against Sidney Frank Importing Co.'s Jagermeister, United Distillers & Vintners' Goldschlager and Schieffelin & Somerset Co.'s Grand Marnier liqueurs.

"The taste is curious. You can ask someone what they think it is and get three different answers," Ms. Galvin said.

Cordials and liqueurs are the country's second-largest spirits category after vodka, according to industry publication Impact.

Ms. Galvin said bartenders also like it because it's mixable. Select barkeepers -- as well as drink recipes -- are featured in the "Tu good not Tu" campaign by Sager-Bell, Louisville, Ky. The ads started rolling out in early August and will run through yearend. Radio could be added. The agency, part of Creative Alliance, Louisville, won the account after a review that included four other undisclosed agencies, Ms. Galvin said.

Tuaca has been sold Stateside for about 40 years, most recently through Allied Domecq Spirits USA. A 750-milliliter bottle retails for about $22, making it Brown-Forman's first high-end liqueur and one of the company's most expensive offerings.

"It's a nice niche to be in, given the state of the economy and high disposable incomes and the trend of superpremium" products, she said.

Other recent high-end endeavors for the country's No. 6 spirits marketer include $40 Don Eduardo tequila, $25 to $80 Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyard's chardonnay, $43 Glenmorangie single malt scotch and $15 Finlandia.

TRADING UP

Brown-Forman is tapping into consumers who are trading up to more expensive products, but it could have a difficult task with Tuaca, considering that Americans have shifted away from heavy liqueurs, said Tom Pirko, president of beverage consultancy Bevmark.

"It's going to take a lot of pushing and pulling to make people fit it into their routines. Part of it is lifestyle," he said. "People don't sit around at the end of a meal that started with a cocktail and continued with a steak and baked potato and then get sloshed with a liqueur at the end of the evening."

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