SHOOTERS CATEGORY FIRES UP;PADDINGTON, BEAM OFFER NEW ENTRIES

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Paddington Corp. and Jim Beam Brands Co. are pouring out extensions of popular cordial brands, promising a shooter shoot-out in coming months.

This month Jim Beam Brands nationally introduces premium import Avalanche Blue peppermint schnapps, with print ads by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, and various agencies handling promotions.

Avalanche Blue tumbles just behind Paddington's late May introduction of Black Haus blackberry schnapps in key markets, with print and outdoor from Mullen, Wenham, Mass., and promotional materials by Milton Samuels Advertising, New York.

GROWING FAST

Neither marketer disclosed ad budgets, but shooters represent a fast-growing segment of the spirits industry. Loosely defined as sweet alcoholic beverages primarily consumed chilled and unmixed, the segment sold between 2 million and 3 million cases last year, by most estimates, and grows between 3% and 15% annually.

The reigning monarch of shooter brands is Sidney Frank Importing Co.'s Jagermeister, which sold 440,000 cases in 1995, up 14% over '94, according to Impact.

Cinnamon liqueurs have proved hot in more ways than one: Impact reveals Paddington sold 315,000 cases of Goldschlager last year, up 14.5%, while Jim Beam's After Shock, new in 1995, sold 155,000 cases.

Both marketers' new entries echo their successful portfolios: Avalanche Blue appears strikingly similar to the After Shock brand, and Paddington's Black Haus reinforces the brand imagery of Rumple Minze and Goldschlager.

Paddington regards Black Haus as a Rumple Minze line extension that shares its authenticity and heritage, said Nicholas Nocca, group brand director.

FLAVORFUL TREND

It "fits very nicely with trends toward consumers' demand for flavor," he said. "Our marketing efforts will be directed toward sampling and promotion."

Vigorous on-premise activity is planned this summer, with print advertising to follow.

Paddington is relying on the brand's authenticity to attract consumers, Mr. Nocca said.

BATTLING JIM BEAM

The marketer's closest rivalry may come not from Jagermeister but from Jim Beam's upstart brands.

Avalanche Blue competes directly with Rumple Minze and After Shock with Goldschlager, and as Paddington trades on authenticity, Jim Beam hopes its products' tastes win over consumers.

Jim Beam also this month extends its DeKuyper line of flavored domestic cordials with two brands, Cheri-Beri Pucker and Grape Pucker schnapps, handled by Fallon and promotion agency UpShot & Knoll, Chicago.

The DeKuyper brands sell at a lower price than Avalanche Blue and After Shock.

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