now you have probably seen Jay-Z's new video for'Show Me What You Got'
and wondered about that golden champagne bottle and the 'ace of spades'
line dropped by Jay-Z in the song.
Two days after the video premiered, a press release issued by 'Armand
de Brignac' intrigued me, here is the link: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/061018/nyw076.html?.v=71
, the title says it all: 'Armand de Brignac Champagne: Showcased in New
Jay-Z Video 'Show Me What You Got.'
Being from France, I know a few things about luxury champagnes and had
never heard of Armand de Brignac, another thing that intrigued me was
the following phrase in their press release: 'The brand is making its
North American debut this year, after enjoying success as a premium, high-end
brand in France.' Weird... if it's so successful in France, then it must
be France's best kept secret! Why is there no sign of this brand when
you google it, besides the recent press release and blog buzz (http://www.luxist.com)about
Armand de Brignac being the 'new Cristal'?
I put on my filthy Columbo trench coat, I'm now on a mission.
First stop: Armanddebrignac.com
. There, a picture of the bottle, a brief history of the brand and at
the bottom of the page, 'Today's News about Armand de Brignac' linking
to the press release about the Jay-Z video.
A quick 'Whois' lookup shows the creation dates of their .com domain names:
Creation Date: 14-Oct-2006
Creation Date: 14-Jul-2006
For a successful premium high end brand founded in 1763, it's a pretty
late domain registration date, don't you think?
The person who registered the domain name has an email ending with '@3vodka.com'
, a division of Sovereign Brands, LLC.
When searching for 3Vodka, I came across this: http://www.3vodka.com/press/JD.html
: 'JERMAINE DUPRI BECOMES A PARTNER AND OWNER OF 3 VODKA. Breakthrough
Vodka Brand Partners With Renowned Music Industry Mogul.' Interesting,
so they've already made deals with Hip-Hop 'moguls'...
Let's see what else is in the Armand de Brignac press release, 'Vinted
at a family estate in the tiny village of Chigny-les- Roses in the French
countryside.' I decide to go to Chigny les Roses's official website where
all the champagne makers are listed. They all have websites so I send
them emails regardind the Armand de Brignac champagne. 2 of them responded
with the same answer: 'this champagne is the property of Cattier Champagne';
. Bingo! If you go to their website, no mention of the Armand de Brignac
brand, very weird for a so-called prestigious brand. A quick call to Cattier's
offices confirms they are indeed behind Armand de Brignac.
One of their champagnes, the 'Antique Gold' has a similar bottle, it is
sold for around $40.
The bottles look similar...
A champagne maker from the same village of Chigny les Roses tells me:
'there's about 40 champagne makers/dealers in Chigny les Roses and absolutely
no Mr. Brignac here nor in the region of the Montagne de Reims. In my
opinion, this brand was completely fabricated to respond to a market demand
from a certain type of customers. This brand is unknown in France, if
it were, communicating on the ownership of a winery without you actually
owning its name or claiming an incorrect established date is deceitful
and unlawful here.'
This kind of makes sense since Jay-Z launched a public boycott of Cristal
champagne in June (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/13350034/)
and banned it from his 40/40 clubs following comments from Frederic Rouzaud,
managing director of Louis Roederer, maker of Cristal.
My guess is Armand de Brignac is a US brand recently created following
the Cristal boycott, they probably partnered with French champagne maker
Cattier because this is the only way to obtain the 'Champagne' label.
In no way it is popular in France, why would it be exported to the US
In the press release, the company makes sure they say: 'This is not
a case of product placement as Armand de Brignac and Jay-Z have not entered
into any agreement, sponsorship or otherwise.'
I'm not sure if this is true but this is very suspect. Only 2 days after
the video airs, they already issue a press release with a description
of the scene: Jay-Z's 'makes his way to a party, where he drops a rhyme
about Armand - "Gold Bottles of that Ace of Spades." - while
holding the Champagne bottle. If this is a new champagne brand, why do
they say 'Armand de Brignac, also called Ace of Spades, Gold
Bottle, or simply Ace for short' ?
In the same scene, Jay-Z is shown a bottle of Roederer Cristal which he
turns down. Check out the video http://www6.islanddefjam.com/www2/av_system/go.wvx?link=7143206lmI9r2bjDM2113ACE-81300
(3 minutes from the start).
Now if this is not product placement then I don't know what it is! And
if someone sees Armand de Brignac being sold at Jay-Z's 40/40 clubs then
there's definitely an agreement.
In conclusion, don't be fooled, this 'premium high end brand' of champagne,
supposedly already very popular in France and already labeled 'the new
Cristal' is probably all marketing, they're probably trying to attract
the 'urban' market by placing their bottles in videos and lyrics. The
bottle looks good, the champagne might taste good, don't get me wrong
but surely is not as 'head of the class' as the prestige cuvées
made by the great Champagne houses of France such as Moët's Dom Pérignon,
Roederer's Cristal, Perrier Jouët's Flower Bottle, Taittinger's Comtes
de Champagne and Veuve Clicquot's La Grande Dame.
I don't know if Armand de Brignac have an official agreement and deal
with Jay-Z but if they don't Jay-Z's lost a lot of money in advertising!
Another interesting thing will be the price, if the Cattier Antique Gold
doesn't exceed $50-$60, how much are they going to sell it for in the
US (I hear at least $300 a bottle, I hope this is not the same champagne),
you'll probably pay for the bottle and the fact that Jay-Z put his stamp
on it in his video...