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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Trend: User-Created: Hip-Hop's "Unwelcome Attention" Redux


Louis Roederer Cristal is now scrambling with a surprising about-face in response to a massive hip-hop boycott over statements made about various rappers' patronage of the pricey drink.

I posted last week about a special Summer 2006 article titled "Bubbles & Bling" in The Economist Magazine, Frederic Rouzaud was quoted in an article stating "We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."

The story caused massive backlash against Cristal, culminating in a boycott of the drink led by Jay-Z, who pulled the expensive drink from his popular 40/40 sports bar franchise and is declaring in recent radio interviews that "Cristal is over."

In a press release issued through Berk Communications, Jay-Z responds: "It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the 'hip-hop' culture as "unwelcome attention." I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including The 40/40 Club nor in my personal life."

Jay-Z continues to twist the knife with: "Just as Rouzaud stated, 'I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business,' Jay-Z and the 40/40 Club will now be serving only Krug and Dom Perignon to their customers seeking high end champagne products."


Louis Roederer Cristal responds in a statement to AllHipHop.com: "A house like Louis Roederer would not have existed since 1776 without being totally open and tolerant to all forms of culture and art, including the most recent musical and fashion styles which — like Hip-Hop — keep us in touch with modernity."

Cute. But probably too late now. And further, merely saying that you're "tolerant" of cultures doesn't exactly say warm welcome, either. Nice move when an executive like Frederic Rouzaud single-handedly boosts competitor sales almost over nite. Just by running his mouth about customer passion for his product. Real nice.

While it is difficult to assess the hip-hop influence on Louis Roederer's bottomline, consider that in a 2004 article the makers of Courvoisier were said to have experienced a 30% spike in sales following the first references of the liquor. It was "the largest increase the 300-year-old brand had experienced since Napoleon III named it the "official supplier to the Imperial Court."

Claire Coates, a spokeswoman for the Cognac National Interprofessional Bureau, says the hip-hop influence helped American sales reach more than 40 million bottles last year, worth $1 billion. Young blacks accounted for 75 percent of those sales.

And that's just Courvoisier, so consider the "hip-hop effect" on brands like Timberland, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, etc., etc., there's no doubt that sales of Cristal have skyrocketed over the years.

4 comments:

Mnels said...

Timberland handled this just right. They made sure the product was in the right places and experimented some with style and customization but otherwise just let it be. They resisted tacking on a communications strategy and let the customers decide winners and losers (imagine that). This strategy has two compelling points to recommend it. Heralding Timberland products as "fashion" rather than function could indeed mess with the more established working man's or outdoorsmen's favored identity of the boots. Secondly, trying to manage the "happy accident" of a new market adopting a product via overt marketing communications almost always takes away the cache that gave it inertia in the first place.

AKI SYSTEMS 2600 said...

Did a Google search today and over 1 million links to Jay Z's Cristal boycott. Two weeks ago, I could barely find 4 Goggle links to anyone anywhere discussing Cristal with relation to hip hop's influence.

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