No Cookie-Cutter Molds
To put the recent explosion of celebrity
wine/spirits endorsement in perspective,
it is important to realize that there are no
standard formulas for how the star-brand
relationship will be defined or promoted.
The degree of involvement can range
from select promotional appearances—
such as Kim Kardashian hosting a Hal-
loween party for Midori—to full-blown
ownership. Some bottles are designed by
the stars themselves; others don’t even
mention them. But if there is one com-
monality, it’s that marketers are taking
cues from what made the stars
considering how best generate publicity.
Musician Dave Matthews has (quite
quietly) owned Blenheim Vineyards in
Virginia since 2000 and recently worked
with Constellation Brands to create
The Dreaming Tree wines with wine-
maker Steve Reeder. “As part of our 2011
launch strategy, we targeted loyal fans of
Dave Matthews, who include consumers
ranging from 30-50 years old,” says Sar-
ah Pearson, marketing manager for the
brand. “We felt this grassroots approach
was in line with how Dave Matthews rose
to popularity and was a great way to hon-
or the fans. After serving his fans first, the
wines were made available everywhere.”
One recent collaboration to watch is
Azqueta, who launched the line in 2008
with partner Brandon Lieb, explains that
the new business relationship was entirely
organic: Enrique loved the rum before he
even met the founders. Azqueta notes, “A
lot of brands developed for a celebrity are
gimmicky. This one started with a product
that had already won awards and gained
respect.” The partnership works, he says,
because of its authenticity: “Atlantico is
a lifestyle brand that celebrates Carribean
sophistication—and that’s his brand,
too.” The Spanish singer-songwriter has
given the brand mass exposure through
placement in his videos and live concerts.
Passion Plays
The example of Enrique Iglesias and At-
lantico highlights the reality that the
more hands-on a star is, the more lever-
age a brand gains in the market. Actor
Dan Aykroyd has teamed up with wine-
growers in his native Canada to create a
line of varietal Niagara wines, but here in
the U.S. he invests time and sweat into
Crystal Head Vodka, a brand he launched
in 2008. “He is involved in every major
decision and also a number of smaller de-
cisions, whether it is production, sales or
marketing,” says Kristina Arnold, market-
ing manager for Crystal Head.
Hands-on tequila-making success sto-
ries include rocker Sammy Hagar (Cabo
Wabo) and singer-actor Justin Timberlake
(901); and country music’s Toby Keith,
who created Wild Shot Mezcal. To cre-
ate 901 (the brand name is based on the
Memphis telephone area code), Timber-
lake and co-owner Kevin Ruder scouted
distilleries in Mexico and helped develop
the flavor profile. Carlos Santana is now a
brand owner of Casa Noble Tequila, and
his album covers are featured in packag-
ing. Tequila has also served as insipiration
for some high-profile advertising, notably
Lollapalooza founder Perry Farrell for Do-
bel and
The Sopranos’
Michael Imperioli
for 1800. The newest Hollywood kid on
the agave block is actor George Clooney,
who developed Casamigos Tequila with
nightclub maven Rande Gerber (husband
of Cindy Crawford).
Hollywood & Vine
On the wine side, Francis Ford Coppola
set the gold standard of passion-turned-
product. Some might even argue that his
wine renown rivals his film legacy. Cop-
pola has plenty of star-powered company
when it comes to the fruit of the vine.
Down in Santa Barbara, Fess Parker in
1987 established a successful family-run
winery more than a decade after star-
ring on TV as Davy Crockett and Daniel
Boone. The Smothers Brothers make seri-
ous reds at Remick Ridge in Sonoma Val-
ley. Actor Danny Glover is also a grower
in Sonoma. TV star Adrian Grenier and
film producer Peter Glatzer help blend
their Paso Robles red, SHFT, marketed by
Domaine Select.
Musical stars Fergie and Pitbull, both
brand owners, bring distinct yet powerful
demographic appeals to Voli Vodka.
Multi-level platforms are the norm among
celebrity endorsements today. Actor Clive
Owen, featured in a just-launched ad
campaign for Three Olives Vodka, will also
be featured extensively in POS materials.
Ne-Yo’s launch of Malibu Red included a
custom song and video.
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