McKinney & Silver slips a taste of Disaronno Originale Amaretto into selected cable television markets this month.
The Italian liqueur, distributed in this country by Bacardi USA of Miami, is among the first to break the liquor industry's self-imposed ban on television advertising.
The key for the $1.1 million campaign is media planning and sophisticated creative that shies away from the irony prevalent in beer advertising. Instead, the work focuses on the sensuality associated with the centuries' old liqueur.
In the Raleigh, N.C., shop's 30-second spot a solitary woman moves from her rumpled bed to a desk, where she pours herself a glass of Disaronno and addresses an envelope. Back on the bed she sips, then licks the envelope shut. A sly smile and gentle music lead to a sexy Italian male voiceover that murmurs, "Disaronno."
"We worked off the idea of Disaronno as a catalyst for passion," said creative director Lisa Shimotakahara.
In the next scene the woman's lover opens the empty envelope. Town bells ring in the background. Searching for a letter, he gets the message. What rises is the scent of the liqueur and memories of the woman he left behind. A shot of the distinctive square bottle and the "Light a fire" tagline close the spot.
Directed by Paul Goldman of Cohn & Co. in New York, the set, lit for black-and-white film but shot in color, gives the ad the look of a foreign film. "The technique enhances the darks, lights and mid-tones," said art director Tony Simmons.
Raising production values was a part of the strategy used by McKinney to make liquor advertising more attractive to stations that balk at promoting hard spirits to audiences that might include minors. The problem: how to shift amaretto's traditional 30-45 female demo to a sophisticated, youthful and primarily male audience.
"Because of the nature of cable, we not only could, but had to segment and target our audience," said McKinney executive media director John Klein. "The emerging markets actually corresponded with those generating the greatest revenue for the brand."
The spot is running on E!, VH-1, Comedy Central, USA, Sci-Fi, TNN and TBS in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Miami, Jacksonville, Fla., and Hartford, Conn.