Nkwocha to launch vodka made from cannabis in UK

The maker of the UK's first-ever alcoholic drink derived from cannabis plants has hired Kizzi Nkwocha's PR agency to manage the launch.

Drinks Merchants was last week granted a licence from the Home Office to import Logan Hemp Vodka from the Czech Republic as of this month. The licence was awarded after more than a year of legal wrangling.

The company is hoping the drink's unique status as the first drink to be sold in the UK made from hemp seeds will kick-start an aggressive marketing drive.

Drinks Merchants has hired PRHQ, the agency run by former News of the World reporter Nkwocha, to handle publicity for the launch of the high-alcohol-by-volume tipple.

Because Drinks Merchant was unable to supply the budget to pay a realistic fee for the brief, an unusual deal has been struck under which Nkwocha's firm will receive royalties of £1 for each bottle of Logan sold in the first three months. The drink will retail exclusively through www.lastorders.com.

It was the nature of this deal that prevented Drinks Merchants' first-choice agency, Max Clifford Associates, from taking on the job: 'They wouldn't do it without a monthly fee,' said Drinks Merchants MD John Gudalajtys.

This claim was confirmed by Clifford's office.

A radio and poster ad campaign is planned by the Nottingham-based Drinks Merchants, but no creative ad agency has yet been appointed to handle that work.

PRHQ's plans to publicise the drinks centre on celebrity endorsements, with Nkwocha suggesting that glamour model Jordan or Pop Idol contestant Rik Waller may be used, though neither of these has yet signed up.

A PRHQ spokesman said: 'We anticipate this drink will fill the vacuum left by alcopops and other brands aimed at the under-40s market.'

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