branding together

IBM E-Book Tries Dickensian Marketing Stunt

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 31, 2011 10:30 AM

It’s been some time since Charles Dickens and William Thackeray became famous with serialized novels, but the concept — making the reader wait for the next chapter — is being given a modern twist with an e-book on IBM’s effort to build a computer smart enough to beat the world’s best Jeopardy players.

Houghton Mifflin, the publisher of Stephen Baker’s Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything, has released the e-book exclusively through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. However, the e-book will be missing the last chapter — until mid-February. Once the final pre-taped Jeopardy contest between Watson, the IBM computer, and “Jeopardy” champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter has been broadcast, the final chapter will be released to the e-book's buyers. 

The winner is already known, so the fact that readers will have to wait for the ending won’t be a draw for them to buy the book.Continue reading...

Booze Newz: All the News You Can Drink

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 28, 2011 05:30 PM

Absolut Takes a Walk on the Wild Side

Tea-drinking isn’t particularly associated with the wild life, but Absolut is looking to change that with its new Wild Tea vodka, which features flavors of oolong tea, elderflower, apples and citrus. For the launch of the new product — actually a revamp of its Absolut Boston city edition — Absolut is bumping up the wild factor with images of Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O in an exotic garden setting (and featuring a live panther).

The photos for the Absolut Wild Tea campaign were taken by Warren Du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones, who have done work for Yves Saint Laurent, Issey Miyake, Nike and BMW. Take that, stereotype of knitting grannies and uptight Englishmen! It’s time for tea. Next on Absolut's radar: Absolut San Francisco, promising hints of Napa Valley "wine country" grape flavor.

Vodka on Toast, Anyone?

Speaking of vodka and Englishmen, British vodka brand Chase says there is a huge waiting list for its limited-edition marmalade potato vodka. While marmalade sales are down in the U.K. (except in the Beckham household), apparently the Brits don’t mind drinking their marmalade instead. “We think of it as the great British breakfast Martini,” said William Chase, founder of Chase Vodka Distillery.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

Knob Creek Rolls out the (Single) Barrel

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 28, 2011 02:00 PM

In a development that should have bourbon aficionados raising their glasses, Knob Creek is bringing to market its long-awaited Single Barrel Reserve, the first new release from the brand since it was introduced by Jim Beam in 1992.

The new bourbon should be on shelves by next month. Ever responsive to consumers, which the brand lets customize its bottle labels, this week an update was posted on its Facebook page to whet fans' appetite:

The master distillers at Knob Creek taste test each batch and then individually select the privileged few to become Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve. Bringing you this quality and taste requires a significant amount of additional time, but at Knob Creek, we don’t shy away from something that’s Worth the Effort. Only a few short weeks until you can find it on the shelves! Who's excited?

Talk about a rhetorical question.

Judging by the comments, they all are!Continue reading...

generation why

Bottoms Up? Nielsen Projects Millennial Alcohol Buying Trends

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 27, 2011 12:30 PM

Interest  in the Millennials — the generation born between the late ‘70s and the early ‘90s — is greater than ever among brand marketers. And as the youngest members of this large generation reach legal drinking age, Millennials, who will make up 40% of Americans age 21 and over within the next 10 years, are about to become even more compelling for alcohol brands.

According to Nielsen, one of the biggest differences between Millennials and previous generations is that they are much more open to trying new alcoholic beverages. While most of them still prefer beer, they buy more wine and liquor than previous generations did at the same age. Thus the typical pattern of maturing into buying more wine and spirits later in life may not apply to them.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

Moonshine Makes It from Backwoods to Cocktail Bar

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 26, 2011 04:30 PM

Moonshine in L.A.? Sounds like an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, but according to the Los Angeles Times, modern moonshine is making inroads into the chic bars of the beautiful people. The clear whiskey is showing up as the latest ingredient du jour for the city's most innovative bartenders.

But this isn't your great-grandpa's moonshine, so called because of its illegal nature. Today's moonshine — also called white dog — is whiskey that has not yet been aged in barrels, creating its distinct color and flavor. Moonshine showcases the raw materials of the whiskey rather than the wood it's aged in.

Original Moonshine, made by Stillhouse distillery in Culpepper, Va., uses the recipe that the distiller's grandfather used to make the illegal stuff in the '30s, with similar equipment.

It may be the most ubiquitous brand of moonshine on the market, but it certainly isn't the only one.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

Hennessy Proves that Money Can’t Buy Good Taste

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 26, 2011 02:00 PM

Since 2007, the beginning of each new year has brought a new X.O limited edition cognac from Hennessy, featuring a unique blend and a designer bottle. This year’s release, called Odyssey X.O, may just be one of the most overdesigned bottles of booze we’ve seen in some time.

Hennessy’s designs aren’t exactly minimalist to begin with, and the higher end they go, the more ornate they get. The X.O bottle is a heavy, curvaceous cornucopia covered with grapevines.

For the Odyssey X.O, multi-disciplinary artist Arik Levy (best known for his furniture design) has stuck the X.O bottle – in shades of silver, rose and gold – on top of what appears to be a piece of silver kryptonite. You can see what we mean at right.

Levy has referred to this year's X.O. limited edition design as an “uncontrolled muscle.” We think someone perhaps should have tried to control his muscles before he got his hands on the Hennessy bottle.

Hennessy also launched Hennessy V.S.O.P Helios at Dubai Duty Free in December. It’s the first of the “Privilège Collection by Hennessy,” which will release an exclusive new bottle each year. 

The V.S.O.P Helios bottle has been varnished in a layer of silver, colored to resemble pink gold, and in case you didn’t catch the reference to the sun, the box in which the bottle is packaged features rays that look like they are coming out of the bottle.

While this pink, blinged-out special edition isn’t as hideous as the Odyssey X.O., subtlety is certainly not one of its charms.

Regardless of the bottle designs, since these are Hennessy and they are limited editions, expect them to get snapped up. At least that will get them out of public view.

From Bacon to Bubblegum Vodka: The Flavor of the Times

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 26, 2011 12:45 PM

Flavored vodkas have been a strong trend for years now and show no signs of slowing, despite the competing trend for darker spirits and old-style cocktails using fresh ingredients. The flavors, they just keep a-coming.

Godiva, for instance, has recently teamed up with drinks giant Diageo to launch Godiva Chocolate Infused Vodka and Godiva Chocolate Raspberry Infused Vodka, touted as tasting "like drinking the essence of cocoa powder." Hmm. Seeing as how we've never wanted to drink cocoa powder, we might just stick with a good ol' candy bar for our chocolate fix.

Godiva's entry is just the latest in a long line of flavors that range from the pedestrian (what seems like thousands of citrus-flavored vodka brands) to the baffling.Continue reading...

brand and bottle

Shackleton's Dram: Whyte & Mackay Retrieves 115-Year-Old Whisky

Posted by Jennifer Sokolowski on January 25, 2011 04:00 PM

After sitting on ice in Antarctica since 1907, three 115-year-old bottles of Scotch whisky recently arrived back in their homeland. The bottles, which were found under the hut of explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, were sent back to Scotland's Whyte & Mackay, the owner of the Mackinlay distillery that originally made the whisky, which is no longer produced. 

Whyte and Mackay will analyze the whisky, and if the ingredients can be identified and confirmed, it could result in a replication of the old blend. "Given the original recipe no longer exists, this may open a door into history,” Richard Paterson, master blender at Whyte and Mackay, told the Associated Press.

We can see the tagline now: "Mackinlay Whisky: Worth the Wait."Continue reading...

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