Pernod Ricard revamps Martell XO

Ads go beyond traditional luxury image

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TBWAG1 ads play up bottle's arched shape
Marketer: Pernod Ricard (Martell XO)
Agency: TBWAG1

SHANGHAI--Pernod Ricard has revamped the positioning of Martell XO to differentiate it from other premium cognacs in China and help the brand resonate with consumers beyond its traditional image of luxury and prestige.

Cognac has long been the top-selling Western spirit in China, one of the world's most lucrative cognac markets, where it is a staple at lavish banquet dinners and smoky karaoke parlors.

Among younger, sophisticated urban adults, however, Scotch whisky, particularly Chivas, another Pernod Ricard brand, has made inroads into the market, following significant investments in distribution and on-the-ground marketing in major cities.

With overall brandy sales on the decline, according to Datamonitor, the French spirits company hopes to boost the image of Martell XO with a new campaign created by TBWAG1 in Shanghai.

Imagery in the advertising leverages the shape of the Martell XO bottle, based on research findings among the target audience--wealthy Chinese businessmen--that the arch represents opportunity, strength and a willingness to build bridges between people, as well as connect ideas to action.

"If cognac were only about traditional luxury and success, Martell XO would be the cognac of choice for those successful people who have, in their own way, shaped their world, not through simply being richer, because they are still that, but more importantly, by having the rare ability to turn ideas into action," said Eddie Wong, exec creative director of TBWAG1 in Shanghai.

The concept is communicated through a story about a handsome Western engineer who travels by helicopter through an iconic U.S. landmark, the St. Louis arch, and is inspired by its shape while designing a bridge. The project is peppered with scenes of the engineer drinking Martell XO with well-dressed colleagues in gorgeous European settings and lingering shots of other curved arches in the surroundings.

The story ends with a triumphant toast in front of the completed bridge, whose shape mirrors the contours of a Martell XO bottle. The TV and print campaign is supported by point-of-sale, on-trade promotions and events produced by TBWA Worldwide's Tequila direct marketing division.

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