French firms to tout food and wine in US

NEW YORK: A coalition of French companies planned a major PR push this month to broaden the appeal of French wines, spirits, and foods among consumers in the US.

NEW YORK: A coalition of French companies planned a major PR push this month to broaden the appeal of French wines, spirits, and foods among consumers in the US.

The New York office of Sopexa, a French marketing and communications firm, is handling PR for a weeklong effort that was scheduled to begin last Thursday to spotlight French products at restaurants across the US. Sopexa hopes to turn this into an annual effort.

The firm planned a media and VIP event for Thursday in New York for samplings of French wines, spirits, and foods. It also has partnered with 40 New York restaurants to offer free hors d'oeuvres the entire week to their first 50 customers who request a featured drink using French products.

Restaurants in other cities, such as Chicago, Washington, DC, and Miami, planned to feature French drinks from last Thursday to this Thursday as part of the PR effort.

Sopexa was expecting about 100 journalists and 100 wine- and spirits-industry executives to attend its event last Thursday, said Beth Cotenoff, PR director with the firm in New York.

The effort isn't a reaction to any perceived American ire over France's failure to take part in the Iraq invasion, Cotenoff said. "It's not particularly a reaction to anything," she said. Rather, "we wanted to show French products in a more relaxed atmosphere."

The US effort is part of a worldwide campaign with similar events planned the same week in Toronto, Dublin, London, and other cities. Companies backing the effort include Barton & Guestier, Ricard, Vertical Vodka, and the French government tourism office.

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