Eleanor Beardsley for NPR
Cognac maker Alexander Gabriel signed up hip-hop artist Snoop Dog to promote Landy, a brand of cognac created to attract a younger, hipper cognac drinker.
Cognac maker Alexander Gabriel signed up hip-hop artist Snoop Dog to promote Landy, a brand of cognac created to attract a younger, hipper cognac drinker. Eleanor Beardsley for NPR
Cognac used to have a reputation as an old man's drink, but the French brandy is enjoying a revival.
For the last several years Cognac sales have skyrocketed, in part due to its growing popularity among young African Americans. Cognac makers export all over the world, but the U.S. is the most important overseas market for the famous French brandy.
Producers with centuries-old traditions in the Cognac region of France are developing hip new product lines — and recruiting rap stars to promote them.
A shift began in 2001, when rap artist Busta Rhymes came out with his hit song, "Pass the Courvoisier."
Reputed to have been the cognac of Napoleon, every Courvoisier bottle bears his image. But even an emperor's stamp of approval couldn't help Courvoisier's marketing problem a few years ago. Cognac was seen as an old fashioned drink for old fashioned people.
The song changed all that, according to Courvoisier's marketing manager, Jennifer Szersnovicz.
"Well, it was huge for the brand," she says. "Because it went on all the big hit lists. And the truth of the matter is that it really showed us what the importance of what having that particular status in the African-American market was all about."