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April 2014 Overview of New Product Launches in Alcoholic Drinks

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This monthly summary highlights the most interesting product launches in April, with a focus on the direction the alcoholic drinks industry is taking in terms of innovative developments.

Celebrity Endorsements, Brand Ambassadors and Star Studded Partnerships: A Shortcut to Success?

The alcoholic drinks industry’s inherently aspirational character, overtly hedonistic nature and unique ability to reflect and capture the zeitgeist has historically guaranteed a very special relationship with a rolling roster of prominent figures from the film, fashion and music industries. In a world oversaturated with a deluge of mixed marketing messages, brand signifiers and semantic nods, such figures can indeed cut through the advertising noise to directly reach their respective audiences. It mostly works, at least in the short term.

From Sean Diddy Combs’ iconic co-ownership of Ciroc and his most recent joint venture with Diageo on De Leon, to George Clooney’s Casamigos tequila and from Dan Aykroyd’s emblematic Crystal Head Vodka to Ron Jeremy’s audaciously and aptly named Ron De Jeremy rum, celebrities are increasingly getting more actively involved in the actual production and ownership of such brands rather than just posing for an overhyped photo-shoot while escaping the potential of a sales hangover.

It is not just spirits either. Heavy metal behemoths such as Kiss, Whitesnake , Tool and Slayer have all got their very own branded wine ranges while Iron Maiden are enjoying a runaway success comparable to the stratospheric trajectory of their music in the mid-eighties , this time through the sales of their eponymous Trooper ale. Intriguingly, the logos of heavy metal royalty have proven to be consistently more lucrative than ventures fronted by TV personas who are broadly associated with a more straightforwardly consumerist lifestyle. Bethany Frenkel - of The Real Housewives of New York City fame – is finding that out the hard way as her Skinnygirl series is flirting with collapse following the initial low-calorie inspired sugar rush and celebrity fuelled euphoria.

It was by no means the only high profile fiasco. Pharrell William’s attempt to front Diageo’s – eventually discontinued- Qream premium cream based liquor not only failed to gain any traction but actually ended up in the courts instead of drinks cabinets. A cautionary tale of the dangers of star studded complacency, overoptimistic projections and miscalculated targeting , Qream’s (non) sales should also be scrutinised against the backdrop of a resurgent cream based liqueur segment in the US.

The lesson here is twofold. On the one hand pop culture iconography can provide a much needed initial boost to new brands, lend an aura of sophistication or luxury and command much higher levels of equity than an obscure hops variety or little known grape varietal. In other words; Megadeth’s wine did not sell out almost immediately because drinkers suddenly realised the joys of Shiraz. On the other hand, having a clear view of the brand’s and category’s target audience , addressing long term strategic planning and finding the ideal public figure to become the flag bearer are essential  .

And that is why Diageo’s launch of Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky today, with Beckham set to play a “fundamental” role in developing the brand, is ticking all the right boxes for a segment in the outer fringes of the ongoing whiskey boom and in desperate need for mainstream publicity.

Haig Club Single Grain Scotch Whisky from Diageo

Housed in an electric blue square glass bottle with embossed writing, Haig Club appears to take design cues from the aftershave industry, which Beckham is well acquainted with, having put his name to five different fragrances. Terms of the partnership-including any equity interest held by Mr. Beckham-weren't disclosed but Diageo said the former soccer star would help develop the brand, its strategy and positioning. Diageo said it is planning a global launch for Haig Club later this year, with prices starting at around $65 a bottle, according to a company spokeswoman. The brand will be part of Diageo's House of Haig, Scotland's oldest grain-whiskey distiller.


Read more about Celebrity Power and Its Influence on Global Consumer Behavior

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