THE YEAR OF THE COGNAC

If you’re in New York’s Chinatown, walk to the corner of Centre and Canal Streets and look up. The billboard with the big Hennessy X.O cognac bottle is covered with little X.O bottles. Guess the correct number and you’ll win a 24-karat gold dragon.

“Cognac plays a traditional role in Chinese celebrations,” said Kimmy Wu, account executive at Admerasia in New York. “We’re trying to contemporize the brand and rebuild [Hennessy’s] image with a Chinese audience.”

The billboard is part of a sweepstakes campaign that also includes print ads, store-window posters and a Web site. (The contest starts today and runs through the year.)

Print breaks this week in two Chinese-language newspapers: WorldJournal and Sing Tao. In the print ads, grapevines symbolizing the heritage of cognac making will represent streets in Chinatown and lead people to the corner of Centre and Canal. Hennessyasianstyle.com will offer biweekly clues on the number of bottles on the billboard.

By the way, the grand prize—the gold dragon—is worth $3,988. “Eighty-eight is a lucky fortune number,” Wu said. “It means the future will be prosperous.”