Hennessy is arguably the world’s most popular cognac brand, selling about 50 million bottles per year globally which accounts for more than 40% of the world’s cognac yearly.
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Brief History of Hennessy
The Hennessy cognac distillery was founded by Richard Hennessy, an Irishman, in 1965. In the 1970s, Kilian Hennessy, a fifth generation direct descendant of Hennessy, became CEO, succeeding his first cousin Maurice-Richard. Kilian Hennessy led the company’s 1971 merger with Moët et Chandon, creating Moët Hennessy.
In 1987, Moët Hennessy merged with Louis Vuitton, and this resulted in one of the world’s largest luxury brand conglomerates, Louis Vuitton Moët-Hennessy or LVMH. In 1988, the group was taken over by Bernard Arnault, owner of the Christian Dior, with the support of Guinness.
It’s Black History Month. This annual celebration of achievements by the black Americans also known as National African American History Month is generally dedicated to recognising the central role of African Americans in United States history and if there is one drink which has played an equally central role in the growth of the African American community, that drink is Hennessy.
The middle-aged African American of today will more often than not identify the legendary centuries-old cognac brand as one they have known since childhood because grandpa drank the dark liquor often, and the one that saw them through college while they were still one of the cool ones. While men are typically seen drinking cognac in black culture, women also indulge in the adult beverage and even with cognac coming in a variety of labels such as Martell and Remy Martin, Hennessy is the most popular cognac in African American History. Thus, it’s become synonymous with hip-hop music and African Americans. But where did this trend come from in the first place?
Most articles seem to agree that rap head Busta Rhymes’ song “Pass the Courvoisier” is the historical marker of the time when cognac consumption in the Black American community reached its peak, but this isn’t true. Busta Rhymes wasn’t doing anything new. Black Americans had been “passing” the cognac for decades before the single came out early in the new millennium, and they were doing it because Hennessy was one of the first spirit brands to devote all resources in the minority audience.
Cognac was born in the southwest region of France when Dutch sailors needed ways to carry their wine along with them on long voyages. By the 18th and 19th centuries, the “new burnt wine” was being regularly exported to Asia, America, England and Holland. Slate has revealed in a recent article that African Americans first documented consumption of cognac while travelling through France as World War II raged.
After the war, Hennessy targeted black publications – a rare and risky gamble, considering the time. This was the 1950s and Hennessy was one of the first brands to feature adverts with black models in the famous Ebony and Jets magazines. But the company didn’t stop there. It was also a leader in hiring Black Americans in ranks of leadership. During the height the United States’ civil rights movement, in 1963, Hennessy brought on 1942 bronze medal Olympian Herb Douglass and he was with the company for more than three decades, serving as Vice President of Urban Market Development. Douglass was merely the third African American to reach the level of vice president of a major national corporation.
Could Hennessy have foreseen a market now often referred to as “the most brand-loyal” with a buying power of $1.2 trillion in 2015? Well, it certainly made the moves required to achieve these. With generations since, it’s seemed a natural progression as the trend continued into the 1990s and 2000s.
The West Africans disseminated information using music even before slavery. The West African “griot”, a storyteller, singer, musician and historian kept records of the village’s events and passed the stories to the next generation.When slavery came, music was used not only to preserve history but to send messages of freedom and of obtaining the freedom. The words in Black American songs have always carried so much weight, and today, Hennessy is mentioned in countless songs by famed artists like Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, Dr Dre, Kanye West, 50 Cent and many more. This kind of product placement or endorsement is priceless. It’s worked so well because those of us who listen to hip-hop are attracted to glamorous parts of our favourite artists’ lifestyle and liquor is a part of that.
Hennessy has continued to embrace and capitalise on the influence the hip-hop artists are having over the fans. For example, in 2015, to celebrate its 250th anniversary, Hennessy named legendary hip-hop artist Nas its brand ambassador. Since Hennessy’s success in this niche, rap artists and their lyrics have become a key marketing strategy for targeting mainstream America. LL Cool J featured in that Gap commercial in 1997, and most notably, Pusha T wrote McDonald’s famous “I’m Lovin’ It” jingle. Poindexter has reported that strategic endorsement or song mention from a hip-hop artist can translate into higher sales for a brand or company. Apparently, the urban culture icons attract a diverse millennial generation that grew up on rap music.
Today in United States, the black community’s buying power is expected to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. Any brand not considering this audience certainly won’t be doing its best in the market. To be successful in this market, they will all need to follow Hennessy’s lead.
Timaya has signed an endorsement deal to become brand ambassador to Hennessy Nigeria Tuesday afternoon.
“Another one! Son of Grace…” the singer wrote on Instagram as he shared a picture of him signing the endorsement deal, with the hashtag #HennessyAmbassador.
Timaya, whose full name is Inetimi Alfred Odon, is one of Nigeria’s most consistent artists with a number of albums that have seen him experiment with raga, hip-hop, dancehall and afrobeat.
The deal is another proof of the continued partnership between alcoholic beverage industry and the entertainment industry with the likes Patoranking, Banky W, and DJ Spinall already representing various brands of alcoholic drinks in the capacity of brand ambassadors.
Hennessy Nigeria will hope to access Timaya’s popularity in the Nigeria’s music scene to attract more patronage for the brand.
It is very possible that it is Timaya’s consistency as a musician that influenced Hennessy’s decision to choose him as an ambassador – the brand itself being a consistent choice for cognac lovers in Nigeria.
Diageo plcis a British multinational alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London, England. It is the world’s largest producer of spirits and a major producer of beer and wine.
Diageo’s brands include Smirnoff (the world’s best-selling vodka), Johnnie Walker (the world’s best-selling blended Scotch whisky), Baileys (the world’s best-selling liqueur) and Guinness (the world’s best-selling stout). It also owns 34% of Moët Hennessy, which owns brands including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Hennessy. It sells its products in over 180 countries and has offices in around 80 countries.
Diageo is an invented name that was created by the branding consultancy Wolff Olins in 1997. The name is composed of the Latin word “dia”, meaning day, and the Greek root “geo”, meaning world, and is meant to reference the company giving pleasure every day, everywhere.
Diageo was formed in 1997 from the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan, under the authorization of Guinness’s Philip Yea and Anthony Greener, along with Grand Metropolitan’s John Mcgrath and George Bull. Shares in Diageo began trading on the London Stock Exchange on 17 December 1997.
Diageo owned Pillsbury until 2000 when it was sold to General Mills.In 2002, Diageo sold the Burger King fast food restaurant chain to a consortium led by US firm Texas Pacific for $1.5 billion. During February 2011, Diageo acquired Mey Icki, a Turkish Liquor company for a total of $2.1 billion.
In recent years, Diageo has invested in many companies.
Hennessy Artistry is an exclusive invitation only musical platform and a celebration of global musical talent which has boasted a fusion of eclectic music genres since it was first launched in 2006. As the brand has a self confessed “commitment to the global art of mixing” It has obtained an established presence within the music industry on an international level.
Hennessy Artistry boasts influential events through Africa, Asia, Europe and America; firmly establishing itself as a key event in Nigeria when it first launched in Nigeria in 2007 with the innovative concept of the “battle of the bar tenders” only to eclipse this in 2008 with a “DJ battle” between Nigeria’s premier DJs!
Although the 2008 even was deemed hard to surpass, Hennessy came back strong in 2009, challenging 5 of Nigeria’s most prominent music producers to devise and implement 4 live contests between 5 of Nigeria’s hottest artists! Since then, Hennessy Artistry has gone from strength to strength, headlining International Best Selling Nigerian Artist D’Banj at last year’s event!
The date of this year’s Hennessy Artistry Event and its headlining artist is yet to be announced; for further information on Hennessy Artistry check out their website at: http://hennessyartistry.com.ng