Seagram: Down Memory Lane—Part 1

Seagram Whiskies

There are a few of us Seagram alums that meet periodically for lunch, but mainly to tell Seagram stories and, well, laugh our asses off. I’ve tried to capture some of the stories in this blog and my book although I’ve barely scratched the surface.

At almost every lunch, John Hartrey never ceases to amaze us with his collection of Seagram memorabilia including ads, promotion items and brands. John, currently doing some industry consulting work, held a wide range of important marketing positions at Seagram, and handled some of the Cuervo business at Diageo, after Seagram closed.

At the most recent lunch, I asked John (make that, begged him) to share some of his treasures with this blog audience. It turns out however, that there are too many for one posting so we decided to share them in a number of articles or should I say, viewings.

Why Care About Seagram?

Well, if you didn’t work there or had any business relationship with the company you probably don’t care. But, consider this. Until its demise, the Seagram Spirits and Wine Company was the leader in the liquor industry in the U.S. It was not the largest, but for 50 years, the company set the pace and tone for the marketing of products and building brands. What Seagram did others followed, even to this day—broadcast advertising, enhanced point of sale promotions, education and true partnership with distributors and the trade in general. Plus much more.

So without further ado, here’s a trip down memory lane, starting with North American whiskies (Canadian and American).

Seagram 83

While I’m not an historian on the brand, what I learned online was it was introduced in 1883 and created by Joseph Seagram himself. This was before the Bronfman family bought the company.

{Click on images to enlarge them.}

Seagram 83
Newspaper Ad 1937
Newspaper Ad 1940

Seagram’s Crown Whiskies

Right after prohibition, Seagram introduce two blended whiskies—5 Crown and 7 Crown. Seagram 5 Crown was discontinued in 1942, presumably because of the war. Interestingly, Seagram 7 Crown was the 1st million case brand in U.S. history. Since its launch, it has sold over 300 million cases.

Seagram 7 Crown in a promotion decanter
Seagram 5 Crown. Never opened. Note the loss of liquid.

 

 

 

 

We will be continuing this series in the future. Part 2 will be Seagram Goes to War with vintage posters of WWII.

 

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4 comments

  1. Good stuff Arthur,

    I have one of the presentation 7 Crown replica bottles that were given out in 1983 when Seagram’s 7 Crown reached their 300 millionth case. I wonder how many more cases have been added in the last 33 years?

    Looking forward to additional installments on the “BOOZE BLOG”

    Rodger DeSarno
    Colleyville,TX

  2. Best memories
    We worked in the Netherlands for Seagram
    Great brands. Great team

    Best wishes for a peaceful 2017

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