Ski events lift Mt. Gay rum

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The "Barbados Challenge" may sound like a geographically impaired name for a promotion aimed at attracting skiers, but for Remy Amerique's Mount Gay rum it represents a move to expand its popularity from sailing enthusiasts to winter sports lovers.

Mount Gay is turning up the heat this season for its second annual "Mount Gay Rum Barbados Challenge," to be held at six ski resorts starting Feb. 3.

Included are a ski race and snowboard race open to the public at each resort. When the series wraps up, two trips for two will be awarded to the Caribbean island of Barbados, where Mount Gay rum has been made since 1703. An identical series of competitions, with the same prizes, will be held exclusively for bartenders.

Mount Gay is stepping up promotional activity to supplement an ad budget of less that $5 million, handled by Adair-Greene, Atlanta. The premium brand, holding about 1% of the rum market, is facing aggressive advertising and promotions from lower-price rivals.

"Our share is small but growing, and we have a strong following among sailors. And research shows the same type of people are skiers, so we're doing a crossover promotion to cement their loyalty on the slopes and recruit new followers," said John Mutterperl, Mount Gay associate brand manager.

Times Mirror Magazines' Skiing Co., which oversees marketing for its Ski Magazine and Skiing Magazine, coordinates the "Barbados Challenge." Supporting the Mount Gay effort will be three-page ad sections in both magazines, direct mail targeting bars, on-site and online ( promotions, and cable coverage on Fox Sports Network.

For AOL Time Warner's Times Mirror Magazines, the effort is one in a growing number of integrated event promotions for skiing equipment and liquor marketers helping to drive advertising and on-site participation of readers, said Aimee Kauker, Skiing Co. promotion director.

Other "Barbados Challenge" sponsors include the Blue Compass resorts Web site, Boeri Helmet, Bougainvillea Resort in Barbados, British West Indies Airlines, K2 Ski Corp. and Original Sin Snowboards.

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