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Thursday, April 10, 2008


Explaining a lot is this NYT travel article on New York (read: Manhattan) bars that "put the right prefix on the -tini."

Picture your basic barely thirtysomething Madison Avenue account rep for some beverage giant. They go out to a bar after work and ...

"Here, they take your cellphone number and call you when they’re ready."

No, they don't have that kind of a place much in Madison or Baton Rouge. But they make all kinds of silly demands on customers in NYC, and the account rep thinks, "Wow, in this cocktail crazy land, I can say anything and it will work..."

No, you can't. But they do anyway, over and over and over. And there are hundreds of obliging media and bloggers ready to defend the cuketini for a free bottle, or ready to denounce it to demonstrate their integrity.

The truth is that there has never been a better time for new drinks than now; but there has also never been a worse time for new drinks than now. Our only suggestion is not to insist on either Old Skool or flavortini approach, but to try, try, try, and give honest evaluations. Unlike those folk in New York City, you do have to sleep at night, ultimately.

For Old School bars in NYC that put you through hell anyway, click the link and scroll to the bottom.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Absolut Error

Not often you find an ad agency that deals with a super brand like Absolut stupid enough to make an error like this one:

Absolut Vodka pulls ad showing California in Mexico (Reuters)

The gringo-insensitive ad was devised by a fairly unrepentant Mexico City firm. The boner comes on the heels of Pernod Ricard purchasing Absolut after a couple of flaccid years with Stolichnaya. Absolut's ultimate-legs ad campaign, now nearing the twenty-year mark, is legendary in advertising circles.

Just last week, we expressed concern about the new relationship with Pernod Ricard and the impact on advertising.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Too much debt at Pernod Ricard?

Diageo was assembled as a super-giant in the 1990's; Pernod Ricard is assembling itself as such in the zeroes. The timing has left the company with more debt than Diageo, which markets niche products and superpremiums better. But what else does today's Pernod acquisition of Swedish Absolut mean for the spirits biz in the US?

The most intriguing element of the acquisition is that Pernod Ricard will have to divest itself of Stolichnaya in order to complete the purchase. The key to Absolut's success in the American market has been its relationship to Saatchi & Saatchi---the agency's historic Absolut campaign is nothing short of the reason Pernod Ricard is obliged to sell off Stolichnaya, which has never been able to gain peer status with Absolut in this country.

Stolichnaya's ad campaigns have fumbled many times, most recently by Pernod Ricard itself in last years ad campaign with Paris-based Marcel Republique. Pernod Ricard has only controled American advertising of Stolichnaya for the past two years, however.

The Absolut relationship with Saatchi may continue under Pernod Ricard; if so, good news for Pernod. But it is more likely that it will not, and if not, there will be more questions for the brand. Most ad agencies don't watch things like Moody's financial ratings, but at this level they do. Pernod's debt load may cause some concern with the new prospective clients.