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Courvoiser gets a brand new dress

Courvoiser gets a brand new dress – wine brand

Larry Walker

In common with many other brandy, cognac and wine brands – specially sparkling wine – Courvoisier is perceived by consumers as a “once in a blue moon” drink, according to Kevin McCarthy, brand manager for Courvoisier in the U.S.

About two years ago, promotional and advertising funding for the brand was put on hold to consider global packaging, McCarthy said. Working with the International Brand Group, which like Courvoisier is part of the Allied Domecq group, it was decided that a new package was needed to give the brand a more casual appeal to a new generation of consumers.

“Courvoisier has a broad audience, so the question became what could we do with the package, what were our objectives. We opted for a total makeover that was non-traditional; however, we wanted to maintain a certain ‘French’ look that would be uniquely cognac. We also wanted to maintain a premium perception and give it a contemporary look while retaining some elements of the original package.”

McCarthy agreed that was a fairly ambitious plan. “But we also decided that packaging on its own was not enough, considering what was going on in the cognac category. We could see potential consumers with disposable income that were looking for drinks with history, drinks that are authentic,” he added.

“We decided on an educational ad campaign to go with the new packaging,” he said. The package and campaign were introduced in the U.S. in February.

McCarthy said the new package was designed to retain the “special” qualities of cognac and the status that comes from drinking it, but to make those “special” occasions come a little more often. “It is all about status, but we want to make the status more accessible.”

The print adverts, part of a $5 million promotional campaign, began in mid-January. “Our goal with the advertising is to be relevant to people now consuming cognac. We are not necessarily trying to switch people from gin and vodka or any other spirit to cognac,” he added. The media schedule includes publications that reach African-American urban men and women, epicurean magazines and general interest men’s publications.

“The new campaign speaks to our target consumer by addressing both a state of mind and a style of life,” said Adam Stagliano, president and account planning director at Weiss Whitten Stagliano, the New York City-based agency that created the campaign. The agency also worked on the Original Sin promotion for Sauza Tres Generaciones tequila, another Domecq Importers brand.

The new cognac package features a long-necked, clear-glass “Josephine” bottle, a simplified and clarified label design and the use of blue, red and cream, which enforces Courvoisier’s French connection.

In focus group research, the new bottle’s shape, color and neck length were rated highly, as was its general eye-catching attractiveness. The design was seen as significantly more modern and up-to-date, younger but less masculine. Two-thirds of respondents said they preferred the new bottle, with over half saying they strongly preferred it. The most common reasons for preference were its clear glass, the color and the shape.

The new package was introduced in the U.K. duty free market last fall. Wilson Marshall, Allied Domecq’s duty free marketing director said the feeling was that the category was “in need of reinvigoration. Our research tells us that existing cognac consumers are more likely to buy the new bottle than the old one. We feel that it helps break down cognac’s somewhat formal, special-occasion image.”

Marshall said the clear glass bottle, which allows the color of the cognac to be seen and appreciated, was one of the key parts of the new design.

McCarthy added that the clear glass was part of the more open, friendly approach. “The idea is that people can now see cognac and see what a great color it is,” he said.

Domecq Importers, based in Old Greenwich, Conn., is a unit of Allied Domecq PLC, the U.K.-based international spirits and retailing group with annual sales of more than $7.25 billion and 55,000 employees worldwide.

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