Liqueur Marketer Loosens Inhibitions

CIL US Inc.'s Camus 4U, a French Cognac and fruit juice blend new to the U.S. market, mocks S&M imagery to reach young trendsetters in Miami, New York and New Jersey.

The center of such efforts is the Web site, modeled after German automaker BMW's idea of mixing marketing with entertainment in short online movies.

Take the “Carrot and Stick” movie, one of four on the site. A man is tied head to toe wearing a bunny mask. A dominatrix dangles a carrot on a stick in front of his face, looking impatiently at her watch as time wears on. The tagline says, “Whatever you're into.”

“It's a very interesting twist on jaded sexuality and somewhat of a parody on traditional liquor advertising,” said Dorn Martell, senior vice president and group creative director of Miami-based Tinsley Advertising, Camus' U.S. agency.

That interpretation is evident in three other movies hosted on the site. They are titled “Pastiche,” “Bauhaus Ballet” and “Oral Hygiene.” A fifth movie, accessible only through a distributed CD, is called “Angel.” It shows a blindfolded man in angel wings trying to break free of his ropes. It was banned online in the United States, the jacket copy claims.

On the same Web site, visitors can access Camus' history, ingredients, cocktail recipes, product availability at clubs and photographs of events. They can buy posters for $5, caps for $9.95 and T-shirts for $19.95. All merchandise displays the same tongue-in-cheek S&M allusion.

While other liquor marketers prefer a more velvet-glove approach, Camus has reasons for using ropes and leather. The small, family-owned brand entered the U.S. liqueur market only a year ago, facing rivals like Kobrand's Alize, Heaven Hill's Hpnotiq and Remy Martin's Remy Red.

In Miami, for example, Camus has focused on the South Beach scene — supermodels, buff bodies and hard partying. A provocative campaign was par for the course.

“If you want to get somebody's attention in South Beach, you really have to get very outrageous,” Martell said. “It's a very outrageous culture.”

Tinsley's task was to pique curiosity in Camus 4U, highlight the Web site, then encourage demand for the drink at New York and Miami clubs, bars and liquor stores.

“It's got to have an experimental quality for the younger market,” said Tinsley president Jim Flanagan. “They drink on an experimental basis. That was the rationale for trying to do something a little bit wild and out there.”

At launch last fall, the marketing included mobile billboards parading through Miami's nightclub district; bus shelter ads; an ad in Beverage Journal and Ocean Drive magazines; and Go Cards postcards in restaurants. They were replete with naughty references and the Web address.

Tinsley also organized a Halloween party on Miami's Lincoln Road and a New Year's event with entertainer P. Diddy at Opium Garden. The photographs are posted online. And, of course, retail stores were stocked with the liqueur and supplied with publicity material.

A less voluble effort was planned for the New York launch between February and April. Ads were taken out in the New York Beverage Journal and the New Jersey Beverage Journal, directing readers to the site. A New Year's Eve party and another at the Exit nightclub Feb. 27 were held.

Other point-of-purchase material distributed by mail and promotion specialists to both markets included posters, table tents, sales fliers, case cards, shelf talkers, coasters and a CD for bartenders. All carry the tagline: “Whatever you're into.”

“How do you reach bartenders?” Martell said. “Traditional means are pretty difficult. They're an interesting breed, so we created a custom CD for bartenders just for driving them to the site. It also had the movies. More important, it had all the mixability uses for Camus 4U.”

Camus plans to capitalize on the club and cafŽ culture in the Miami and New York metropolitan areas. Eyebrows would not be raised in these markets if patrons requested “Menage a Trois,” “The Deviant,” “The French twist” or “Bunny Boy” — names of possible combinations involving Camus 4U.

The campaign will continue for a year.

“There will be a shift to a more urban market,” Martell said. “But what we wanted to do in the upfront launch was to really not pigeonhole our target so much. We wanted to go from a race-neutral kind of approach, really targeted to the trendsetters, the experimental people, the people who live and die for the hottest new club and hottest new clothes.”

Priced around $22.95 for a 750ml bottle, Camus falls into a Cognac category that is seeing declining sales not just in the United States but in many overseas markets (African-Americans consume 80 percent of Cognac in the United States). And when consumed, it is becoming the preserve of an older audience.

“They wanted to get into youth culture,” Martell said. “That's really their thing. Cognac sales are pretty difficult to create a new market for that, and so this was a way of taking an old family product and sort of reinvigorating it.”

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