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Celebrity seal


Famous names get in on the alcohol business with branded beer, liquor and more.

Shawn Lealos September 28th, 2011

When most people head into a liquor store, they know exactly what they want. But there are times when they may notice something different. It might be a stand-up cutout of Snoop Dogg or a picture on the wall of Ludacris — it’s the sight of a familiar face that piques an interest.

“People will come in and ask about Snoop Dogg’s alcohol,” said Zack Harrison, with Thunderbird Liquors, 1200 12th Ave. S.E. in Norman. “That’s why they do that; it’s all premium alcohol.”

Snoop Dogg uses his name to help sell a unique malt liquor called St. Ides, which includes mint- and fruit-flavored beer. Adding his name to the alcohol presents the rap star with a nice payday and Pabst Brewing Company with an endorsement to move more product.

However, celebrity endorsements come with a risk. Snoop Dogg also endorsed Blast by Colt 45, an energy drink with 12 percent alcohol. The energy alcohol craze presented a legal conundrum for bars, and the state banned alcoholic energy drinks. While this is a problem between the distributor and the state lawmakers, it also could paint the celebrity endorser in a bad light.

right Snoop Dogg welcomes customers via his promotional poster to Joe’s Place in Norman.

But at the end of the day, how much does his name help when it comes to sales? While Harrison said people come into his liquor store and ask for the celebrity product, others do not see the alcohol moving strictly because of the endorsement.

“We get a lot of comments about the stand-up of Snoop Dogg,” said Travis Preston, night manager at Joe’s Place, 1330 E. Alameda in Norman. “People are more interested in the stand-up than the liquor. It does not translate to increased sales.”

While Snoop Dogg and other stars endorse alcohol, it is normally the quality of the brand that increases sales in the long run. Sammy Hagar released his tequila, Cabo Wabo, in 1999. With Hagar’s name behind the product, it soon became a top-selling tequila product.

“Cabo Wabo is a big seller,” Harrison said. “People ask for it because it is advertised on classic (rock) radio here in Oklahoma.”

However, part of the problem with buying a celebrity-endorsed alcohol is the price. Whether it is Ludacris endorsing Conjure Cognac or Dan Aykroyd endorsing Crystal Head Vodka, they almost always come with a larger price tag.

“I might mention Dan Aykroyd’s name when people ask about the bottle, but it rarely translates to sales,” Preston said.

While many of the celebrity-endorsed alcohol brands are about putting a famous person’s face on a poster to sell more drinks, there are success stories that come out of the advertising efforts as well.

“The one that really comes to mind is Skinny Girl margaritas,” Preston said. “They don’t often mention the girl (Bethenny Frankel) by name, but people come in and ask for the alcohol. There is a link there, and it is a great success story.”

Frankel turned reality show appearances into a career, and her story helps her liquor remain successful.

“The success of celebrity endorsements really depends on the saturation in the media,” Harrison said. “People will see something on TV or online and come in and ask for it by name.”

Photo by Mark Hancock

 
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