‘Taste Is the New Bling’

NEW YORK The first campaign for Moet Hennessy USA from WPP Group’s Berlin Cameron United encourages people to show off what good taste they have.

Hennessy has long been adopted by rappers as one of their favorite drinks with shout outs and even entire songs dedicated to the expensive after-dinner cognac. The campaign, which includes seven Internet spots and three conventional TV commercials that will begin airing in the next few weeks, continues the drink’s association with the rap scene by having the music created by producer and rapper Pharrell.

In “Lost Weekend,” a 90-second spot that debuted on flauntyourtaste.com this week, a matriarch invites a group of young musicians to spend the weekend at her luxury mansion. What follows is a montage of parties, sailing and poolside shenanigans followed by more parties.

The other online spots will expand on the back-story of some of the characters from “Lost Weekend.” For example, one will show the rivalry between two of the women.

Print ads will appear in magazines such as GQ, Vanity Fair and Vibe.

For Ewen Cameron, CEO and ecd at Berlin Cameron United in New York, getting people to accent what good taste they have is similar to the previous craze of wearing as much diamond jewelry as possible. “Taste is the new bling,” he said.

Moet Hennessy USA, a division of LMVH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy), has never shied away from such associations for the brand, sponsoring awards shows where rappers were prominently showcased and having stars such as Rakim and Eric B. in earlier ads.

“Hennessy, volume wise, has a very urban skew to it,” said Cameron. “But what was happening in the urban market and the mainstream market was a move to brands like Belvedere and Grey Goose.”

In an effort to reverse that shift, Berlin decided to emphasize the powerful taste of the cognac while tying it to a refined lifestyle that enjoys flaunting its sophistication.

“The urban metro market was evolving and the insight we had was the new ultimate consumption was taste,” said Cameron. “Instead of showing off your rims or clothes, it was about showing off the symbols that articulate your taste.”

The seeming contradiction of showing off a refined sense of taste is not lost on Cameron. “You could argue that taste is subtle, but we see having taste as flaunting it. Our audience wants to go out and be noticed, but for their good taste as opposed to objects,” he said.

Berlin won the estimated $10 million account, previously held by Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners, following a review last year.