LOS ANGELES: Remy Martin cognac, sung about by hip-hop stars such as Beyonce, LL Cool J, and Eminem, is capitalizing on pop status to introduce its 1738 Accord Royal line to new audiences. The spirit's New York-based importer has teamed with GCI for a multi-platform campaign to coincide with Black Music Month 2006.
The program furthers efforts begun last year, when Remy hired the firm to create a branded Web site and concert tour, said Robert Barr, GCI's group VP in charge of the account. For this year's effort, he said, "we wanted to get America as a whole involved, and make the Web site more interactive"
To that end, the centerpiece of the new effort is the 1738.com Web site, which allows visitors to tune in to more than 1,000 hip-hop, soul, and gospel song samples, vote for their all-time favorites, and email messages to friends encouraging them to vote, too.
According to Barr, GCI and Remy Martin compiled the massive list of songs, which range from Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" to Rick James' "Superfreak" to 50 Cent's "In Da Club"; the firm worked with New York-based Muze to secure music-sampling rights and capabilities. Ideally, Barr said, the site will have generated 10,000 votes between June 1 and June 30. Poll winners will be announced July 1.
To attract potential voters, GCI pre-seeded blogs, Web sites, and newspapers with information about the poll, Barr said. Even before the site's June 1 launch, mentions had appeared in media outlets as diverse as the Rap News Network, hiphoppress.com, Yahoo business news, and the Ventura County Star.
At the same time, GCI teamed with XXL magazine for a "hip-hop soul special issue in honor of Black Music Month," Barr said. The New York firm worked with marketing agency Monkey See Monkey Do to position Remy Martin as the June issue's sole sponsor. Throughout the month, XXL Music Editor Bonsu Thompson will appear via satellite on hip-hop and R&B-formatted radio shows to discuss the magazine and Remy's online poll.
In addition, Barr said, GCI and Remy Martin have arranged local-market 1738 promotions in upscale lounges across the country. The events were set to begin with a June 6 launch party in New York, co-hosted by XXL. Other events will feature model and Remy spokesperson Lizz Robbins.
Since the mid '90s, Remy Martin – and the cognac category overall – has seen significant growth, in large part due to its status as the alcohol of choice among high-profile rappers. According to the Cognac National Interprofessional Bureau, North American cognac sales reached more than 40 million bottles – an estimated $1 billion – in 2004.