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Cognac marketer Remy Martin has unlocked a new door to the upscale consumer market by staging events backing the openings of independent plays and films.

For a spirits marketer like Remy Martin, whose products range in price from $35 to $1,200 a bottle, tying into events that attract upscale consumers is a high priority but a difficult task, because such groups can be hard to reach. With Remy Martin's expanding "Tastemaker Series," these consumers can sample Remy Martin products while rubbing elbows with celebrities.


"It's relationship marketing, and it's very targeted because we invite people who are on the subscriber databases of the theater organizations, which automatically delivers a group of culturally influential people who are often upscale," said Hillary Peck, Remy Martin's marketing director.

The marketer last year teamed with independent film and theater organizations in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to create "Tastemaker Series" cocktail parties for hundreds of people attending high-profile film and theater openings. For 1998, Seattle, Boston and Atlanta are being added.

At the events, samples of Remy Martin's cognacs are dispensed along with recipe cards (see inset) for cocktails like the "Remy Sidecar."

"Cognac is a strong, very specific taste. Independent film and theater also appeal to a very select group whose tastes happen to match our target customer's tastes," Ms. Peck said.

Actors and other celebrities often attend the events. John Malkovich this month attended a "Tastemaker" gathering in Chicago that marked the opening of "The Man in the Iron Mask."

The "Tastemaker Series" was developed in conjunction with public relations agency Kratz & Co., New York.

Remy Martin also is pursuing literary-minded consumers via its "Remy Martin Talk Series" of cocktail parties that kick off this month. The events offer free cognac samples and feature discussions among writers and playwrights.

Remy Martin says sales have increased "significantly" in markets where events have been held.

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