Seagram’s Martell in Review

Seagram has launched a global review of its Martell Cognac business, which is currently at Ogilvy & Mather, sources said.
The review is limited to roster shops, and Ogilvy plans to defend the account, which is worth $30-40 million in billings, according to sources.
Also invited: TBWA/Chiat/Day, handler of Absolut Vodka, Chivas Regal, Seagram’s Gin, The Glenlivet and Godiva liqueur; and Grey Advertising, which handles Captain Morgan, Crown Royal, V.O. Canadian and Myers Dark Rum, in addition to Mumm champagne.
Grey’s MediaCom unit buys media for all Seagram brands except Absolut.
The agencies are expected to meet with the client to discuss parameters within a few weeks. The agencies declined comment; the client could not be reached at press time.
Ogilvy has handled Martell since late 1993, when Seagram shifted the business from DDB Needham. Last year, Ogilvy broke a print and radio campaign that featured recording artists from Seagram label Universal Music Group and targeted 21- to 35-year-old African Americans.
Lately, Seagram has spent relatively little on Martell in the United States. In 1998, ad media totaled less than $1 million; through July 1999, Martell has spent $853,000, according to Competitive Media Reporting. The company spends considerably more overseas.
Martell’s U.S. sales declined 4 percent in 1998 from 235,000 cases in 1997, according to Adams Liquor Handbook. Hennessy cognac was the category’s leader, with sales of 1.26 million cases; following was Courvoisier, at 430,000 cases; and then came Remy Martin Cognac, at 345,000 cases, according to Adams.