SEAGRAM FINALLY STIRS IN FREEZER COCKTAIL NICHE

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Seagram Co. next month will begin to wade into the chilly category pioneered last year by Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide: ready-to-serve blended freezer cocktails.

Seagram's three-flavor Frozen Paradise line of shelf-stable, malt-based cocktail pouches will roll into 30 states, skewing to younger females in the East and Midwest. The mission: to end Brown-Forman's lock on the category with its wine-based Tropical Freezes.

Brown-Forman isn't taking the challenge lying down. It's readying a second line of non-tropical frozen cocktails, Icebreakers, aimed at both sexes.

A 1995 success story, Tropical Freezes made its national debut and sold an estimated 1.3 million cases last year, according to industry newsletter Impact. And the Seagram upstart may help the category grow, said Bruce Peoples, Tropical Freezes brand manager.

Seagram is approaching the cold war cautiously, starting with a less-than-national launch and point-of-purchase advertising, by Siebel Mohr, New York.

Seagram's marketing strategy relies on impressing consumers with its powerful label. But Brown-Forman has a comfortable head start, being alone in the category until this spring. They also cover more consumer bases, with brands aimed at both sexes.

Brown-Forman will spend an estimated $7 million to $8 million to advertise each on TV and radio. Northlich Stolley LaWarre, Cincinnati, handles Icebreakers, using the tagline "The chill of your life"; Tropical Freezes is at Hill, Holliday/Altschiller, New York.

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