NEW YORK: Viridian Spirits, makers of Lucid absinthe, is bringing "the green fairy" back to the US after a nearly century-long absence, and is using PR to dispel old myths about the drink.
Banned in the US in the 1910s, many here and abroad believed a chemical in absinthe called thujone caused hallucinations and madness. In the 1990s, the drink reappeared in Eastern Europe, prompting travelers to bring bottles home.
Jared Gurfein, president of Viridian Spirits, said the company noticed increased pop culture references to absinthe, particularly in films like Moulin Rouge.
"I started thinking it was something a lot of people knew about and were curious about," said Gurfein.
To create Lucid, Gurfein turned to absinthe historian TA Breaux, who tested vintage bottles of absinthe and found that little or none of the outlawed thujone was present. Lucid is made exactly as absinthe was 100 years ago, using items like copper stills and herbs, creating a chemically clean alcohol that was approved after testing by the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax found that it passed legal guidelines for importation from Lucid's distiller in France. The same method will be used when Lucid is introduced in Western Europe.
Gurfein said that the inherent newsworthiness of his product made a PR campaign the best marketing pursuit.
"It's a much better use of our resources to put the story out through PR rather than spending money on fancy advertising," he said.
In addition, media attention can clear up confusion about the drink.
"Our job is to educate the consumers and the media," adds Alana Radmin, account supervisor at Alison Brod PR, Viridian's AOR.
Because Lucid is only available in New York right now, efforts have been focused there, with earned media placements in the New York Times Business section and the New York Daily News. Viridian also held a Lucid event at a Manhattan nightspot. Alison Brod has also used its hospitality relationships to get Lucid at bars and restaurants around the city.
"It's exciting here [in the US] because it's just becoming legal," said Gurfein. "We're going to cast the PR net as wide as we possibly can."