CeeLo Green is part of a celebrity trio
promoting TY KU Saké; also on board:
“Millioinaire Matchmaker” Patti Stanger
and Internet gossip kingpin Perez Hilton.
Opposite page, top: Don Omar, Alex Sensation and
Jorge Posada for Hennessy Cognac; P. Diddy for Cîroc;
Enrique Iglesias for Atlantico Rum. Bottom: Dan Aykroyd with
Crystal Head Vodka, Dave Matthews with The Dreaming Tree
wines, Toby Keith with Wild Shot Mezcal.
elebrity endorsement
of wine and spirits is
not exactly new. Orson
Welles famously assured
TV viewers back in
1980 that Paul Masson
would “sell no wine be-
fore its time.” But the past decade has seen
significant shifts both in the frequency of
celebrities aligning with wine and spirits
brands and in the nature of the endorse-
ment. Some are spokespersons, some are
brand owners, some have licensed their
names and images. Some appear in ads or
at promotional events, radiated online.
In general, celebrity-brand relation-
ships have become more of a two-way
street—not to mention one with more
lanes. As more celebrities want in to this
relatively glamourous world, more wine
and spirits marketers appear eager happy
to bring them along for the ride.
The Power of Personality
(& Credibility)
Few celeb-brand connections have proven
as effective as P. Diddy (Sean Combs) and
Cîroc. Annual sales of the vodka hovered
around 120,000 cases when Combs came
on board in 2007; now it’s a million-case
brand, with much of the success is at-
tributed to the artist himself appearing in
TV ads and the well-known entertainer
promoting the brand actively via appear-
ances, both formal and informal.
P. Diddy’s success came with a young
brand. Stars can bring juice to established
ones as well. Tanqueray Gin partnered
with actor and DJ Idris Elba in 2011 for
“Tonight We Tanqueray,” a platform that
included events, videos, a downloadable
song and even new drink recipes. “We were
looking for partners who could bring to life
the style and sophistication of Tanqueray,”
says Brand Director Matt Pechman for
Tanqueray. “Idris was a perfect match.”
Before launching a celebrity brand
or partnering with a celebrity there are
a few considerations, says Dave Karraker,
director of public relations for Campari
America. “First we look at the celebrities
themselves—who is their demographic
and does that demographic match a hole
in our portfolio that we have to fill?” he
says. Just as important: “The person has
to have credibility to be associated with
that spirit.”
Campari recently showcased Oscar-
winning actress Penelope Cruz in an
evocative 2013 calendar. Entitled “Kiss
Superstition Goodbye,” the calendar
shows Cruz indulging in superstitious
acts—breaking mirrors, walking under
ladders, opening umbrellas indoors, etc.—
all while looking fabulous in Campari-
red outfits and holding Campari-based
cocktails. The calendar project, shot in
Milan this year by fashion photographer
Kristian Schuller, has been done annually
by Campari for more than a decade.
the Sports Scorecard
umerous pro athletes have been lured by the call of
wine country. Pitching great Tom Seaver makes highly
acclaimed Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Ditto
Super Bowl–winning football coach Dick Vermeil,
once nicknamed the “Calistoga comet” during his playing
days in the region. Hall of Famer Joe Montana partnered with
former Beringer winemaker Ed Sbragia in the late 1990s to
make Montagia Cabernet Sauvignon. Former quarterback Drew
Bledsoe makes wine under the label Doubleback in Walla Walla,
Washington, where he grew up. Green Bay Packer Charles
Woodson owns TwentyFour Wines in Napa Valley (he caught
the wine bug when, as an Oakland Raider, he trained in Napa). Retired Packer/
Jet/Viking Brett Favre makes three wines, sold only within Wisconsin and in his
restaurant. Even teams (Jets, Chargers) have collaborated on wines.
Racing legend Mario Andretti founded Andretti Winery in Napa in 1996. A couple
of hundred cases turned into a full-fledged business, with a tasting room and 16
wines. Lewis Cellars (Randy Lewis), Bernardus (Ben Pon) and Bennett Lane
(Randy Lynch) are also wineries owned by former race car drivers.
Hockey’s Wayne Gretzky produces wine under the No.
99 label. Golfers with their own wine labels include Greg
Norman, Ernie Els, Arnold Palmer and Annika Sörenstam.
Fuzzy Zoeller has an ultra-premium vodka:
Fuzzy’s, naturally. Tennis great Roger
Federer, known for serving aces, is now
serving up Moët & Chandon Champagne
as their brand ambassador. And Emmy-
winning sports commentator Jim Nantz
teamed up with Deutsch Family Wine &
Spirits to create The Calling wines.
Mario Andretti
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