Spirits marketing: GlobalHue to handle Courvoisier business

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Allied Domecq Spirits North America has tapped GlobalHue, New York, as agency for Courvoisier, in a move to further the cognac's presence in urban, largely minority communities while also edging toward the mainstream.

The account had been at Interpublic Group of Cos.' dRush, New York, until September, when the agency was shuttered for lack of business. Russell Simmons, a former dRush partner credited with helping devise the "House of Courvoisier" campaign that contemporized the brand and got it growing double-digits after years of flat sales, will continue to work on the brand as vice chairman of GlobalHue.

cocktail culture

Courvoisier's two-year-old plan to target urban trendsetters taps into the cocktail culture, turning Napoleon's stodgy 168-year-old nightcap into one ordered by nightclub-hopping sophisticates. The marketing program hinges on fashion and music, with print, radio, invitation-only parties and other non-traditional mediums used to sell bottles that retail for anywhere from $20 to $5,000. Prior to the fall 2000's "House of Courvoisier," the country's No. 3 cognac had relied on promotions.

GlobalHue, also backed by Interpublic, was selected without a review because hip-hop music impresario Mr. Simmons had struck an arrangement with it. He will continue to advise Courvoisier on strategy and creative and said the "House of Courvoisier" campaign and trendsetter focus will continue. Stephanie DeBartolomeo, group director of Sauza and Courvoisier, said GlobalHue work would break in advance of fall's fashion week.

Though blacks continue to be the brand's largest constituency, the consumer base has expanded with their powerful sway on popular culture, Ms. DeBartolomeo said. "Urban, young-adult trendsetters ... have significant influence over popular culture in the U.S. and the world, quite frankly," she said. The U.S. is Courvoisier's largest market, followed by the U.K., and GlobalHue's efforts are expected to focus in those markets.

continuing growth

Courvoisier trailed Schieffelin & Somerset Co.'s Hennessy and Remy Amerique's Remy Martin in 2001, according to Impact, which has not released last year's figures. Growth picked up about 18 months ago, with last year likely seeing 20% growth.

Ms. DeBartolomeo said the media mix and spending would remain in line with recent years. Courvoisier received $6 million in measured media in 2001 and $3 million in the first 10 months of last year, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR. Courvoisier's attention, however, is focused at the end of the year.

Mr. Simmons said that while an "urban" focus often is associated with "black," Courvoisier is going after the "cool city dweller," and that if young hipsters in New York or Los Angeles "don't like you, you're out of business."

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