A taste of the good life

From Champagne to coffee, brands are increasingly using high-end lifestyle PR programs to appeal to a broad range of consumers.

Whether in a dimly lit cubicle or on a yacht off the coast of Capri, eating and drinking is a routine part of life. However, very few people can jet off to the Mediterranean on a moment's notice, which is why PR and marketing pros often try to provide consumers with a taste of that and other aspirational lifestyles by connecting luxury images to food and beverage brands.

The Champagne brand Piper-Heidsieck was once enjoyed by the likes of Marie Antoinette and Marilyn Monroe. So, the company's PR efforts are rooted in the "extravagant lifestyles" implicit in these connections, says Marie Christina Batich, PR and events manager at Remy Cointreau USA, US importer of Piper-Heidsieck Champagne.

"We use a cinematic approach to appeal the brand to consumers," Batich adds.

This summer, the company will promote the brand with a series of national pool parties in such venues as LA; Scottsdale, AZ; and San Diego. The events will target influencers ranging from media to celebrities, according to Josh Rosenberg, VP at M Booth, which is working on the program for Cuvee Brut.

At the center of the parties will be the Piper-Heidsieck Piscine (the French word for pool), a drink in which Cuvee Brut Champagne is served over ice in red goblets.

This concept originated in the French Riviera, where the company noticed people drinking Champagne in this unique way. Piper-Heidsieck first executed the Piscine promotion at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

Rosenberg notes that the events reinforce the connection between Cuvee Brut and a leisurely afternoon on the French Riviera.

With national media outreach to lifestyle and even outdoors magazines, "[Piper-Heidsieck] is becoming more aware of... non-traditional approaches to reach the consumer," Batich says. "Consumers want to know about more than the calorie content... It's about explaining the drink's background."

The promotion will continue after the summer in markets where the drink remains "seasonably appropriate," Rosenberg says.

Drink in hand, consumers might dream about experiencing an international escape, but others might simply want to increase satisfaction in their everyday lives, as celebrities appear to do in media outlets.

Coffee manufacturer Nespresso does not have an ad budget, but relies on the exposure generated through unpaid product placement and mentions by celebrities.

Working with AOR Publicis Consultants, Nespresso increased sales by 40% during the past four years, and attributes much of this success to its celeb-centered PR efforts, says Veronique Grellier, Nespresso's communications manager.

"What we do is put in place celebrity programs to reach out to influencer VIPs at exclusive events where [consumers] can't get tickets," Grellier says. "[We promote] to the VIPs... [to] show Nespresso to a very discerning audience."

Such events include hospitality and gift lounges at Fashion Week, where the Nespresso team can engage celebs, who promote the brand through word of mouth, says Greg Eppich, Publicis VP and Nespresso account manager.

Celebrity ambassadors range from actress Rashida Jones, who was introduced to the brand through her family and made mention of the machine in Vanity Fair; to celeb chef, Daniel Boulud, who noted Nespresso in a personal profile for Page Six Magazine and uses the product in his four-star restaurants.

Other PR efforts are generated through outreach to set dressers, Eppich says, who notes that the Nespresso machine was requested by the team for the recent Sex and the City movie, and subsequently made an appearance on "Mr. Big's" counter. The Nespresso machine has also appeared on the sets of TV shows like Medium.

Celebrity engagement might be a large part of Nespresso's PR, but it also promotes its products at high-end events, like a polo match in Florida.

Targeted consumers are in the 30-plus age group, with large market segments in New York, Florida, and California.

"The Nespresso experience is centered on the coffee... ritual," Grellier says. "And our PR is always trying to find new ways to communicate products with priority lifestyle content."

Celebrity impact on the beverage market
Danny DeVito works a drunken appearance on The View into his own premium brand limoncello for Harbrew Imports Ltd.

Sean Combs serves as brand manager for Diageo's Ciroc vodka line, overseeing PR, in addition to ad and marketing efforts

Donald Trump has a brand bottled water, Trump Ice, to add to his other product lines, which include vodka, menswear, and perfume.

George Clooney serves as brand ambassador for Nespresso, outside of the US, until 2009.

50 Cent created his own flavor of Glaceau Vitamin Water, called Formula 50, and assisted in promoting the drink in the context of his own health-conscious lifestyle.

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