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News Briefs for April 3, 2012

April 3, 2012

•Moët Hennessy USA’s Hennessy Cognac has launched a new U.S. campaign entitled “Wild Rabbit.” Centered on the notion of pushing one’s potential, the campaign represents the largest marketing investment in the brand’s history, and also marks Hennessy’s first television advertising since 2007. Several celebrities, including champion boxer Manny Pacquiao, musician Erykah Badu and filmmaker Martin Scorsese are involved in the campaign. All three will be featured as interactive, digital representations of themselves at pop-up installations in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, and will also appear in Hennessy’s online, television and print ad components. Hennessy is the leading Cognac brand in the U.S., at around 2.1 million cases.

•Pernod Ricard USA has introduced a new flavor extension to its Malibu premixed cocktails line, Melon Margarita. The new product will retail for $19.99 a 1.75-liter pouch. The Malibu cocktails range, launched last June, also features Tropical Sea Breeze, Rum Punch, Caribbean Cosmo and Tropical Mojito variants. The Melon Margarita cocktail follows two recent extensions to the core Malibu rum brand, Malibu Red and Malibu Sunshine. After reversing a decline in 2010 with 1.9% growth, Malibu rose 5.6% in the U.S. last year to 1.7 million cases, according to Impact Databank. The brand does approximately half its global business in the U.S.

•Swedish vodka Karlsson’s Gold is introducing a limited-edition variant that it claims is the first “single-varietal, single-batch” vintage vodka to hit the U.S. market. Karlsson’s Batch 2008 is made from the 2008 harvest of the Gammel Svensk Röd (“Old Swedish Red”) potato from the Cape Bjäre region of southern Sweden. Just under 2,000 bottles of Batch 2008 are headed to the U.S., where they’ll sell at select accounts like PDT, Del Posto and Astor Wine and Spirits in New York, Wally’s and K&L Wine Merchant in Los Angeles and Michael Mina and The Jug Shop in San Francisco at $80 a bottle at retail. Karlsson’s is imported by New York-based Private Brands, a subsidiary of Swedish brand owner Spirits of Gold.

•Peruvian spirit brand Pisco Portón has named former W.J. Deutsch & Sons exec Jean-Francois Bonneté chief operating officer. Prior to joining Pisco Portón, Bonneté served as W.J. Deutsch’s vice president for its spirits division, managing brands like Adult Chocolate Milk, Luksusowa vodka and Original Moonshine. Prior to that he led Cognac Ferrand USA. Launched stateside last year by a group of U.S. investors, Pisco Portón is priced at around $40-$50 a 750-ml.

•New York-based chef Michael White and his financier Ahmass Fakahany, a former Merrill Lynch executive, plan to expand their Altamarea Group of restaurants with at least five new openings this year, according to a recent profile on Fakahany in the New York Times. Two of these openings have been confirmed—a pizzeria called Nicoletta in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood is slated to open in May, while a new supper club style lounge called The Butterfly will open in Tribeca this summer, as Shanken News Daily reported on March 15. Other locations being considered for expansion of the restaurant empire include Las Vegas and Istanbul. Altamarea Group currently operates several upscale restaurants in New York City, New Jersey and Hong Kong.

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