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How Hennessy plans to 'take cognac down from the attic' and emulate the whisky revival

LVMH cognac brand Hennessy XO is gearing up to launch a new consumer-led campaign, which will aim to reposition the drink as a versatile spirit, rather than an after-dinner, night-time tipple.

The initiative follows on from Hennessy’s recent work to win over the on-trade. It saw the brand deliver an experiential pop-up (featured in the video above) within Moët Hennessy’s UK headquarters that featured a room of mirrors, a tasting session with influential mixologist Mr Lyan and a screening of a bespoke film from Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn.

“He’s a daring director; a bit dangerous, which shows the direction we want to go in,” said Max Helm, Hennessy’s UK brand ambassador.

The Odyssey pop-up was a first glimpse of the brand wanting to little more bite to perceptions of cognac, which Helm believes, is a “misunderstood” drink. “It’s nothing new,” he explained. “We’re taking it down from the attic and dusting it down.

“People think cognac is something that you drink in your leather chair after dinner around the fire. We need to give it it’s moment. It’s a challenge, but look at the whisky category – it was dated 15 years ago and look what’s happening now.”

Helm explained that the partnership with Mr Lyan is an example of how the brand is trying to position itself. The drinks guru served up three different versions at the event using simply different temperatures of water, cognac and tumbler in order to showcase the versatility of the drink. “It was amazing to have him on board,” said the brand ambassador. “He really understands the direction of the brand.”

With its sights set on becoming a revived favourite on the drinks scene, Hennessy is about to launch “phase two” of its campaign. Phase one involved 120 members of the on-trade, primarily those from influential bars, to initially get the drink on the agenda throughout the cutting-edge London cocktail scene.

Details of the consumer-focused progression are being kept under wraps, however Helm added: “Phase two will take the campaign to a whole other level. We’re going to be making noise from now through to the summer.”

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