DOMAIN CHANDON LOOKS BEYOND THE CELEBRATIONS: NEW ADS DRAW ON HYPNOSIS FOR BRAND POSITIONING

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California sparkling winemaker Domain Chandon, in an attempt to bubble beyond the millennium hype, next month launches an ad campaign developed in part by hypnotized focus-group participants.

The effort, breaking in print in the fall and moving into outdoor and later TV, is targeted at 35-to-55-year-olds.

In creating the work, D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, Los Angeles, asked focus groups-each with about six consumers who consented to be hypnotized-to detail their experience and feelings about the first time they drank champagne or other sparkling wines.

AN EMOTIONAL HOOK

With regular focus groups, explained Terry Balagia, executive creative director at D'Arcy, "you get rational answers, when in fact sparkling wine consumption is emotional and inside driven."

Some participants, once under, began to recount romantic and sexual experiences that "I'm sure they wouldn't share in the waking state," said Diane Dreyer, senior VP-account group director at the agency.

One man discussed attempting to seduce his girlfriend in the basement of his parents' house in the 1970s. Another told of waking up in a strange apartment after drinking sparkling wine.

Still, "Overall it was not the revelatory epiphany we thought it would be," said Chris Fehrnstrom, VP-marketing for sparkling wines at Domain Chandon, adding that it was "just one step" in the ad-development process.

This week, Mr. Fehrnstrom starts a new job as senior VP-marketing for e-commerce retailer Virtual Vineyards.

The new ads for Domain Chandon, owned by LVMH, focus on a redesigned logo-a shooting star instead of a stagnant star-and a black and gold label rather than its traditional green and white.

BREAK IN AUGUST

Initial print ads, running in August issues of travel, epicurean and consumer magazines, feature the label, wrapped around a couple, and short, poemlike phrases such as "When your mind settles briefly between passion and Zen, Drink it in, drink it in, drink it in."

A second execution shows a husband and wife who "know your soul has a twin," while a third shows three girlfriends who realize "time can't separate friends."

Outdoor ads are planned for Los Angeles sites, and when TV breaks next year, it will air in Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles. Spending is expected to reach $4 million this year and up to $7 million next year.

The champagne and sparkling wine market was a $1.2 billion business in the U.S. in 1997, with about 12.8 million cases sold, according to Impact. Consumption has been declining, however, down about 5 million cases from the 17 million sold 10 years ago.

AVOIDING A MILLENNIUM EFFORT

Chandon, with about a 4% market share, specifically shied away from a millennium-focused effort, believing that the bubble bursts after Jan. 1.

"I don't know where it takes them the next year," said Mr. Fehrnstrom of such advertising.

Chandon's competitors are doing millennium celebrations, from its upscale sister Moet & Chandon champagne-with a celebration-preparedness print campaign, to the more directly competitive Korbel Champagne Cellars, the "Official Champagne of the Millennium."

Domain Chandon believes its broader, and more long-term, positioning will help

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