I write a monthly column for Spiritz magazine in India, which is the most widely read alcohol-related magazine in the country. My column is called Booze Abroad and the March issue contained a story on how the broadcast advertising (voluntary) ban for spirits was ended in the US.
While TV advertising for spirits has become widespread, it came about through the leadership of Seagram, but not without some ups and downs along the way.
The article is available on this blog with the permission of Bishan Kumar the publisher of Spiritz. To read it, simply click on the words, “Spirits Ads on TV” at the top of the column on the right.
Like many companies in the food, beverage and hospitality industry, Seagram cocktail receptions and meals were somewhere between elaborate and over the top. A long list of third world countries could feed their people from the leftovers of a cocktail reception.
A good friend and former colleague had a wonderful way of putting it, “At Seagram, you didn’t become a millionaire but you sure lived like one.” Or, at least, ate like one.
Two stories come to mind.
I was always fascinated by Seagram’s Gin and at a recent lunch with a former production friend, we reminisced about the brand. I thought I would share that with my Seagram readers.
When I came to Seagram, the brand was selling at roughly the 3.3 million case levels. Thanks to Snoop Dogg’s Gin and Juice rap song, it grew to close to 4 million cases by the late 1990s. Today, the brand is still the leading gin but its sales are in the 2.5 million case range.
The product story of Seagram’s Gin epitomized the fundamental values of the company. In the commitment to quality and brand differentiation, someone way back when (perhaps Mr. Sam himself) decided that an American Dry Gin could be smoother and more tasteful if it were rested in charred oak barrels for 90 days. That resulted in a more expensive proposition and gave the product a pale straw color. Then, they decided to put it in an “ancient bottle” which evolved into the “bumpy” bottle the brand uses today.