This week, popular French cognac brand Rémy Martin hosted the finale of the fifth season of the Rémy Martin Producers Series in Los Angeles. Seven up and coming music producers from around the country competed for the opportunity to hit the studio with DJ Mustard and Big Sean, whom of which served as judges for the event. Held at the Belasco Theater in Downtown LA, the event served as an engaging brand activation for Rémy Martin to market to the hip hop and African American demographics, two very important segments not just for Rémy, but also the whole cognac space.
Cognac has long been considered hip hop’s alcohol of choice. From countless mentions of Hennessy in rap lyrics, to Busta Rhymes and P. Diddy’s hit song “Pass the Courvoisier”, to Fetty Wap’s crew the Remy Boys, to Jay Z launching his own brand, D’USSE, cognac has been prevalent. Hip hop is an impactful branch of African American culture, and interestingly enough, the United States is actually the biggest consumer of French cognac with African-Americans accounting for almost two-thirds of the sales. However, hip hop can’t be entirely credited for this trend.
The rising popularity of the drink dates back to World War II, when Black soldiers stationed near Cognac, France (where the booze gets its name) were first introduced to it at local jazz bars. Cognac became a preferable liquor over American whiskey, which was typically produced in southern states with a history of slavery and racial segregation. The ties between cognac and music has been long lasting, and has carried forward to today with rap ultimately replacing jazz. Hip hop/ rap is more popular than ever to not just African Americans, but people all over the world with rappers being some of the most influential figures in pop culture. Getting a name drop could be monumental. “Pass the Courvoisier” was said to have helped increase Courvoisier’s sales by 30%.
In a competitive alcohol market where consumers are fickle about the brands they drink, getting mentioned by popular music artists are practically commercials that can change people’s buying behaviors. Hennessy reigns supreme in regards to being name dropped in songs, which is something it doesn’t mind, and has helped it maintain its #1 position in the cognac market. Rémy Martin falls in third place behind Hennessy and Martell, so investing in marketing that targets the “power users” can help it gain market share.
The Rémy Martin Producers Series provided aspiring producers a platform to get their music in front of big names like DJ Mustard and Big Sean. Most of the competitors had generic sounding beats you can find throughout SoundCloud, but the winner Milo infused various cultural sounds, like afrobeat and salsa, with trap percussions. Overall, it was a great event from a marketing perspective because it engaged Rémy’s target consumers of young, trendy, and influential African American alcohol consumers through music. People skew towards brands that represent them. The Rémy Martin Producers Series is a vehicle to show that the brand is a mainstay in hip hop.