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Seagram Americas is targeting both mainstream and African-American audiences in a new hip-hop-flavored outdoor, print and radio campaign breaking next month for Seagram's gin.

The advertising from TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York, features a picture of the gin's trademark bumpy bottle and rhyming paeans to the brand, such as "The smooth groove" or "Tonight's delight." The phrases point to the tag, "The word is gin."

The campaign features "almost hip-hop connections with words," said Arthur Shapiro, exec VP-marketing and strategy for Seagram Americas.

The distiller also plans to break brand-specific ads next month urging responsible drinking.

Spending is estimated at $6 million; in 1997, the distiller spent $3.1 million on the gin, according to Competitive Media Reporting.


The effort represents a new tack for Seagram, which previously ran separate campaigns for mass and targeted African-American audiences. Following the lead of marketers such as Nike and Miller Brewing Co., Seagram decided to enlist a single campaign that could cross racial lines. Its logic was that media such as Sports Illustrated draw consumers from across the spectrum.

Seagram placed the account with roster shop TBWA in November. The gin was previously handled by Ogilvy & Mather and African-American agency Chis-holm-Mingo Group, New York.

The company's goal is to follow up the advertising with promotions such as on-premise rhyming competitions and a possible link with music performers from parent Seagram Co.'s entertainment division.

Seagram is hoping the new direction will help reverse a long-running slide for the gin. Sales in 1997 fell 6% to 3.2 million cases, according to industry newsletter Impact.

As for brand-specific ads on responsible drinking, "It happens to be good for the brand because it builds that relationship with the brand," Mr. Shapiro said.

For instance, the mischievous captain will appear in a Captain Morgan-themed responsible-drinking ad from Grey Advertising. An ad now running from TBWA tagged "Absolut responsibility" shows taxi- and car-service business cards pinned to a bar bulletin board in the shape of the bottle.

"I would like to see [responsible-drinking ads] represent 10% of our ad"

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