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The Black History of Hennessy: A Trendsetter’s Story #BlackHistoryMonth

The Black History of Hennessy: A Trendsetter's Story | www.drinks.ng

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.

The Black History of Hennessy: A Trendsetter's Story | www.drinks.ng

The Black History of Hennessy: A Trendsetter’s Story #BlackHistoryMonth

Posted on 02 07, 2017

It’s Black History Month. This annual celebration of achievements by the black Americans also known...

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HIP HOP + ALCOHOL – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Ciroc Bottle | www.drinks.ng

HIP HOP + ALCOHOL – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

ciroc

The hip hop industry is practically fueled by alcohol, and big shots in the industry such as P diddy and Jay Z are brand ambassadors for heavyweight brands. What better way to prove you’re drinking the finest spirits than by snagging an endorsement deal or, better yet, creating your own line of premium liquor. Although many partnerships fizzle and celebrity brands get discontinued after a year or two, some top hip-hop celebrities are going strong in the alcohol game. From Drizzy to Puffy, they’re all here.

 

1. DRAKE, VIRGINIA BLACK BOURBON

The Canadian rapper launched his own whiskey, Virginia Black Bourbon in June. It’s a smooth, sweet bourbon—perhaps the perfect spirit for those looking to dip their toes into the world of American whiskey. We wonder why he chose to create a bourbon rather than represent his home country with a Rye.

2. JAY Z, ARMAND DE BRIGNAC CHAMPAGNE AND D’USSÉ COGNAC

One of the most successful rappers of all time, Jay Z shows us he’s the greatest by hooking up with not just one but two alcohol brands. Hov once drank  D’USSÉ out out of one of his Grammy Awards, skyrocketing the brand’s rep and solidifying his role as its spokesperson. The mogul also made headlines in 2014 when he flat-out purchased the entire Armand de Brignac Champagne brand for a reported $200 million.

3. NICKI MINAJ, MYX FUSIONS

Nicki Minaj’s entrepreneurship skills might just be almost as hot as her rap bars. The “Anaconda” artist is a co-owner of Myx, which sells single-serving bottles of fruit-flavored wines. The brand has become the best-selling moscato in the U.S. after being featured in a number of popular songs.

 

4. DJ KHALED, D’USSÉ COGNAC

DJ Khaled has proven that he knows the major keys to success. The unofficial king of Snapchat announced in May that he will be partnering with D’USSÉ, with the help of mentor and partner Jay Z, of course.

 

5. LUDACRIS, CONJURE COGNAC

Conjure was founded by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges and partner Kim Birkedal Hartmann in 2009. Luda became one of the first in the rap business to go beyond endorsing a brand and actually rolling up his sleeves to participate in the blending process. One of the rapper’s favorite ways to drink cognac is with a splash of cola.

 

6. E-40, SLURICANE, EARL STEVENS SELECTIONS WINE AND E40 MALT LIQUOR

E40 has three different bottlings on the market. His newest addition, E40 Malt Liquor, is an homage to his rap moniker, itself a nod to his ability to drink numerous 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor. The rapper also reps a line of Northern California wines under the name Earl Stevens Selections, as well as Sluricane, a 36-proof premixed Hurricane concoction that comes in three candy-colored flavours.

 

PITBULL, VOLI VODKA

Pitbull, popularly known as Mr. Worldwide, is an outspoken advocate of partying and having a good time. The Miami rapper has repped Voli since 2011, saying its product was one of the best spirits he’d ever had. Along with becoming an ambassador and spokesperson for the company, Pitbull is also a shareholder in the vodka brand.

 

8. NAS, HENNESSY 

Nas has partnered with the famed Hennessy brand for half a decade. He has become the face of the company’s Wild Rabbit campaign and, in turn, has voiced a handful of commercials that tell stories of pushing one’s limits to discover true potential.

8. DIDDY, CIROC AND DELEÓN TEQUILA

Sean “Diddy” Combs’ is the brand ambassador for Ciroc vodka. Before P-Diddy came on board, the brand was best known for being made from grapes, rather than the traditional potatoes or grains. But now, the rapper leads the company’s brand management and has helped Ciroc make a name for itself. In 2014, Puff Daddy beefed up his alcohol mogul cred by acquiring DeLeón, which he calls “an outstanding brand that appeals to those who love exceptional tequila in a distinctive bottle.”

Ciroc Bottle | www.drinks.ng

HIP HOP + ALCOHOL – EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Posted on 08 23, 2016

HIP HOP + ALCOHOL - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW The hip hop industry is...

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