SEAGRAM ADS FOR 7 CROWN AIM TO PUT BRAKES ON SKID: WHISKEY IS POSITIONED AS CONTEMPORARY

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Hoping to update the image and arrest the long-term slide of Seagram's 7 Crown blended whiskey, Seagram Americas next month breaks a regional outdoor, print and radio campaign from new agency M&M Creatives, Marlboro, N.J.

The ads contrast vintage and contemporary photos to tout

7 Crown as a brand rich with history yet hip to modern living.

One ad juxtaposes a b&w photo of a serviceman chastely kissing a woman with a color shot of a modern couple's more passionate embrace.

The campaign runs with the new tag "Was . . . is . . . America's spirit."

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY

"We took a look at how we could revitalize the brand and how we could develop a campaign that was relevant with the younger consumer," said Bob Bernstein, director-American whiskey for Seagram.

The ads mark a break from past emphasis on seven & seven, the cocktail that mixes the whiskey with 7 UP.

Seagram Americas moved the account to M&M Creatives in July. The brand previously had been handled by Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York. Grey Advertising, also New York, handles media.

7 Crown has been on a sales skid since 1980 as Seagram neglected it in favor of its Absolut vodka and Captain Morgan rum brands. Sales for 7 Crown fell 5.5% to 2.9 million cases in 1997, according to Impact.

$1.3 MIL IN AD SUPPORT

The brand received about $1.3 million in ad support last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

Seagram executives have pointed to 7 Crown and Seagram's VO Canadian whiskey as brands they wish to resuscitate (AA, Jan. 12), and the new campaign fits into that effort.

"They are brands [we] realized are still the lifeblood of the company," Mr. Bernstein said.

Seagram this month is breaking a new regional campaign for VO and new line extention VO Gold, aimed at "genuine Joes and Janes" who don't necessarily go in for trendy superpremium brands, Mr. Bernstein said.

The campaign pokes fun at "male-isms" like using soap as shampoo. Grey handles VO.

VO sales slid 5% to 1.6 million cases last year, according to Impact. It received less than $200,000 in ad support, according to CMR.

The 7 Crown ads are slated to begin in Arizona, California, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.

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