Champagne executive Frederick Heidsieck has a message for rapper Jay-Z: Cristal is alive and well, thank you very much.
The global sales manager for Louis Roederer, maker of Cristal, the iconic $300-a-bottle super-luxury bubbly celebrated in numerous hip-hop anthems, says sales are surging once again. More to the point, he claims they never suffered because of the African-American musician's boycott of the purportedly "racist" brand in 2006.
Cristal is the oldest cuvée de prestige in the Champagne region," said Mr. Heidsieck, dressed in a neatly tailored blue suit and shimmering pink tie, on a promotional swing through Toronto last week. "So we cannot accept that somebody - hip-hop or not hip-hop, doesn't matter - says, "I made your Cristal.' "
In fact, in the wake of the much-publicized denunciation, in which Jay-Z announced he was pulling the brand from his U.S. sports bars, importers from more than 50 countries inundated Mr. Heidsieck's office with e-mails and phone calls requesting any excess inventory not taken up by the U.S. market.
The brouhaha was sparked by comments from Roederer managing director Frédéric Rouzaud in The Economist magazine. Asked whether Cristal's association with the "bling lifestyle" might sully the brand, Mr. Rouzaud said: "That's a good question. But what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it."
Mr. Heidsieck says the racism charge "was obviously not true," and, for the record, he seemed gleeful in our conversation about the wine's cachet among wealthy young rap artists. But that market is a drop in the bucket for Cristal with the entire United States accounting for just 15 per cent of sales.
More tangibly painful for the brand - dubbed "Cris" by its rap-star devotees - was the recent recession, which took a swig out of Champagne sales generally after more than a decade of heady expansion. Cristal sales plunged 20 per cent in late 2008 and the first half of 2009, and Champagne over all was down 15 per cent in 2009 over the previous year, Mr. Heidsieck said, as wealthy consumers tightened their Gucci belts and formerly free-spending scenesters stayed home in droves.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Cristal is doing better than ever after Jay-z boycott.
I was always fascinated by the hubris of Jay Z to get pissed off at Cristal for not wanting to be associated with hip hop considering how honorable and classy that culture tends to be right? But it seems Cristal is doing just fine.