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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Christian Davis

Martell, recently deposed by Courvoisier as the UK's best-selling Cognac (see Harpers, 18 October), will be back, vowed the commercial director of Pernod Ricard UK, which bought the brand from Seagram. Ian Tottman told Harpers Martell had been in limbo for a year' while the US authorities ruled on the takeover, and that Pernod Ricard UK only took over the brand in the spring. The Nielsen MAT (moving annual total) figures include last Christmas, when Martell was not active' and Allied Domecq was discounting heavily' on Courvoisier, claimed Tottman. The brands are about neck and neck,' he said. They [Courvoisier] had a cracking Christmas last year, but they are not going to get the same this year.' Martell has a major on-trade promotion, Mix It & You're in', encouraging consumers to drink Martell as a long drink, and at the Grand National there will be more Martell than ever before', according to Tottman. In claiming that the heavy discounting of Cognac was detrimental to the long-term future of the sector, Tottman said: We recognise that the future of Cognac lies in investing in consumer awareness and trial, as well as price promotions.' Tottman also unveiled new gift cartons for Chivas Regal, Jamesons Standard and 12-year-old, Bushmills Malt whiskey and Pernod itself, with major promotions behind Jamesons (98%:2%) and Pernod (Social Chemistry). The company is also continuing its Jacob's Creek sponsorship of the American TV soap Friends, the last series of which is soon to begin on Channel Four. Tottman said competition between the multiple retailers and between the major branded wines was becoming more competitive', but Pernod Ricard would be backing Jacob's Creek with some energetic promotions'. The brand is also being heavily promoted in several of the multiple pub chains. Pernod Ricard is offering to put staff into key supermarkets before Christmas to help Beer, Wine and Spirits supervisors' replenish their fixtures. There will also be Jacob's Creek sampling in selected multiple retailer car parks. * Jacob's Creek winemaker Phil Laffer told Harpers that in 2003 the brand will introduce a Jacob's Creek Shiraz and Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Riesling, probably at the Australia Day tastings.