Crown Royal Returns to Airwaves

Crown Royal wants to remind everyone who is king. The No. 1 whisky brand and sixth best-selling spirit overall in the United States, this week breaks its first new national ad campaign in more than five years.

“For every king a crown” centers around two new TV spots. One shows a pool shark father passing down his skills to his adult son. Another, features a jazz musician naming his heir to the stage.

The theme is “accomplished individuals who despite their success, stay true to their values revealing an inspirational strength in character,” per the company. Long-time agency Grey Worldwide, New York, handles.

Crown Royal had shied away from new TV creative in recent years, as it focused its marketing dollars on Nascar sponsorship. The Diageo-owned brand was the first to take advantage of the new Nascar policy allowing hard-liquor sponsors during the 2005 season. The deal runs through 2011.

Getting back on the air with a fresh message is the right move, said alcohol industry consultant Arthur Shapiro. “You know Crown Royal is top of the line, but it’s not always top of mind. You need to remind people.”

Crown Royal was one of the first spirits brands to advertise on television. In 1996, its ads appeared on a local ABC affiliate in Texas. Spirits brands had previously honored a self-imposed ban. Today, cable is rife with spirits ads, while network TV still avoids them.

Crown Royal is in a good spot for consumers, said Shapiro. Priced at around $24.99 for a 750-ml bottle, it is only a small trade up from cheaper whiskies, he said. Plus, “it’s an opportunity to convert people from [higher-end] vodkas.”

The brand spent $4.4 million on U.S. media for the first nine months of the year (not including online expenditures), per Nielsen Monitor-Plus. Last year, it spent $13.1 million.