Fall Menu Flavors Restaurant Mailer

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Alain Ducasse at the Essex House, an upscale French cuisine restaurant in New York, will drop its autumn mailer Sept. 21 to coincide with the menu for the season.

Headlined "I love Olive by Alain Ducasse," the customer retention mailer shows olive oil being poured into a cooking pan, accompanied by images of a couple bottles of extra virgin and lemon olive oil.

"With the autumn mailing, we'll start a new series centered on produce or ingredients which are key in Alain Ducasse's cuisine," said Emmanuelle Perrier, Monte Carlo, Monaco-based director of communication at Alain Ducasse Group.

The three-page folder drops to 6,000 customers in the United States. These patrons often frequent French chef Alain Ducasse's Le Louis XV restaurant in Monte Carlo and Restaurant Plaza Athenee in Paris.

Opened in June 2000, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York's posh Central Park South district offers a new menu every season. This rotation requires four rounds of mailings to invite customers back each season.

The restaurant, a $2 million investment by Ducasse and Essex House's owner, features a 65-seat dining room, lounge, private dining room for 12 people and a six-seat Chef's Table.

Cuisine centers on local produce.

"Olive oil has always been a strong signature of Alain Ducasse's cuisine," Perrier said.

That is spelled out loud and clear in the mailer.

"If you change two vowels in the word 'olive,' you create 'I love;' this trick reveals my passion for olives and its incomparable oil that extracts from it after the autumn harvest," Ducasse says in the mailer.

"My olive oil is transcendent and rules in my cuisine," he goes on to say. "Olive oil resembles wine in that quality depends on the type of olives, the year in which they were harvested, the soil in which they were grown. The next step is to delve into a fantastic medley of flavors featuring accents as different as pepper, salt, fresh almond, artichoke and cut grass."

Next to the text is a photo of an old-style olive press in Liguria, Italy. Accompanying copy describes the process of creating extra virgin oil. Another image, titled "Autumn Pleasure," shows a dish of cepes perfumed with olive oil.

The mailer then switches to happenings within the Alain Ducasse Group. It lists awards given to the restaurant and its owner as well as the result of a raffle held in June to mark the New York restaurant's second anniversary.

The mailer also touts a new book from Ducasse and a Paris store's October opening. The message is rounded off with street and e-mail addresses for the restaurant, the telephone and fax numbers and the alain-ducasse.com Web site.

Paris-based graphic designer Herve Rivoalland, who has known Ducasse for more than 10 years, created the mailer. Costs of the mail effort were not disclosed.

Alain-ducasse.com will be relaunched later this fall. Around that time, the group will begin an e-mail newsletter for the New York restaurant with information such as summer closings.

"We're currently working on a larger e-mailing campaign that will go to the customers of our three restaurants in Monaco, Paris and New York," Perrier said.

Direct mail has been a staple Alain Ducasse tactic for several years. It started with Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo about eight years ago. Response from that led to its use at other Alain Ducasse locations.

"When calling for reservation, they do mention they receive the mailer," Perrier said. "We now also receive e-mails referring to the mailings. We do have a very interactive relationship with our customers. We listen to them, their comments, and are always trying to improve."

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