Steada Treated, We Get Tricked

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A Cristal exec offends the highly sensitive Jay-Z:

Rappers have long proclaimed their love for Cristal, frequently mentioning the high-end champagne in songs and popping the corks of the clear, gold-labeled bottles in music videos and at nightclubs.

But the makers of Cristal don't seem to feel the same way about hip-hop, at least that's how Jay-Z sees it.

The Def Jam Records chief has decided to boycott the beverage he once loved over comments by Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, the company that produces it.

In The Economist, Rouzaud said the company viewed the affection for his company's champagne from rappers and their fans with "curiosity and serenity."

Asked by the magazine if the association between Cristal and the bling lifestyle could be detrimental, Rouzaud replied:

"That's a good question, but what can we do? We can't forbid people from buying it. I'm sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business."

Jay-Z called Rouzaud's remarks "racist" and pulled the brand of bubbly from his chain of clubs. I guess I missed the racism part, but Cristal's bling-amenability nicely counters the idea of the passive consumer, brainwashed into blind obedience by scheming admen. Cristal's brand meaning wasn't dictated by marketers so much as recast by consumers.

Jim Twitchell's fantastic 2000 Reason piece, "In Praise of Consumerism," is here.

Lryics to "Hard Knock Life," also culturally recast, here.

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  1. Burberry apparently discontinued making baseball hats because they had become too popular with chavs. So, they must classist.

  2. Could those guys make a new video? Ok, you’ve got cars and Cristal and stuff. Got it.

    Seagrams (I think) used to make something in the early 90s called “Gin n’ Juice” that you could buy in gas stations, quickimarts and the like. Tasted like a tangy 7-Up but was effective. So it goes the other way too.

  3. Wasn’t there something similar with Tommy Hilfiger clothes a while back?

  4. We’d love for these people to quit making such use of our brand as well.

  5. As managing director of Louis Roederer, let me be the first to say “yeh yeh uh uh, Cristal in the hizzouse muthafuckas, whu whu”.

  6. Meanwhile, back at Cadillac, someone in product development deserves a huge bonus for the supersized Cadillac logo on the back of the Escalade. Heck, they should give the escalade brand team a case of cristal, each.

  7. Jay-Z reads “The Economist”?

  8. News Flash:

    If you price your product as a classy luxury good above the rabble, you will sell that product to people who want to prove they are now above the rabble.

  9. Jason Ligon gets it right.

    Prestige brands ALWAYS have a love-hate relationship with people ‘downmarketing’ their product. It can sometimes be good, and sometimes be bad. Witness the JC Penny-fication of once ‘suepr premium’ products like Nautica, Calvin Klien, Polo, etc. Not to say that those brands dont still have plenty of markets to sell into, but the brand equity has eroded. They’re almost always ‘on sale’.

    Premium liquor products have generally not had this problem. Their markets are on-premise consumption, so it’s kind of a win win no matter who drinks the stuff. Volumes go up.

    JG

  10. In related news, real racists still exist.

  11. But seriously, how is this racist? Reminds me of a friend of mine who told this black neighbor of ours: “I like your shirt. It’s very afrocentric.” It had, I hasten to add, a giant map of Africa on its front. The neighbor looked at him like he was nuts, and said: “You a racist or something?”

  12. I know this is horribly stereotyped and should earn me much derision, but maybe it’s popular because of the clear bottle.

  13. And yet the irony — of supposedly race-conscious, anti-defamation Jay-Z and his colleagues lauding the virtues of bling that is created entirely without concern or benefit for his peeps — well, that’s totally lost on Jay-Z.

    If supporting your race is so important to you, Jay-Z or Puff Dippy or Fiddy Cent or whoever you are, then how ’bout you put down the crap marketed by fossilized Eurofags, and buy African-American instead?

  14. Did he say Eurofags?

  15. If you price your product as a classy luxury good above the rabble, you will sell that product to people who want to prove they are now above the rabble.

    This is so. There is an aspect of “ghetto culture” (is there a better term?) that has always annoyed me. I don’t have a problem with spending money on overpriced name brands. However I don’t like to see “pearls cast before swine”. That is to say, if you’re going to mix your Champaign with Sprite, I’d rather you bought some carbonated applejack that retails for $500 a bottle than waste good Cristal. It’s one thing to use your money to say “I’m so rich I can piss away huge piles of cash on shit every night”. But there also seems to be an effort to say “I’m a man of taste and refinement because I buy only the best”, which seems absurd when coming from someone who is simultaneously trying to cultivate an image of ‘gangsta street hustler’.

    I think Rouzaud got it right. Hip Hop is not the image they would like for their product. But it’s not like some rapper lapping it out of some ho’s crack diminishes the quality of your bottle.

  16. Of course Jay-Z reads the economist, his net worth is estimate at $320 million. The man’s got businesses all over, he’s more businessman than rapper.

  17. Cristal has nothing to worry about, at least their champagne is being served properly. When I was a bartender, I constantly got orders from the hip-hop crowd for things like Remy Martin and pineapple, or Courvoisier and Diet Coke with seven maraschino cherries. Maybe I’m a racist for having mocked them mercilessly under my breath, but maybe I’ve just got taste.

  18. Does Rouzaud realize most consumers of hip-hop are rich white kids?

    Cristal is overrated anyways. I’d rather have White Star than that stuff.

    [ducks]

  19. I’m a Bollinger man myself.

  20. Did he say Eurofags?

    I believe the actual quote was “fossilized Eurofags”. Go figure.

  21. Did he say Eurofags?

    I believe the actual quote was “fossilized Eurofags”. Go figure.

  22. Cristal’s bling-amenability nicely counters the idea of the passive consumer, brainwashed into blind obedience by scheming admen.

    Right. Instead the passive consumer is brainwashed into blind obedience by scheming hip-hop artists. There’s a distinction without a difference.

  23. Wasn’t there something similar with Tommy Hilfiger clothes a while back?

    I do know that there was this rumor, which no doubt spawned some sort of boycotting. The funny part in this case was that Hilfiger had absolutely nothing to do with it.

    And to throw in my two cents: Jay-Z, stop bitching, etc.

  24. I am a libertarian “hip-hopper.” I frequent hip hop web forums. I posted bascially the following when everyone was saying “way to go Jay, that cracka said he doesnt want ‘nigg#$$’ drnkin his stuff.” I don’t think he meant to say anything negative about the hip-hop consumers, especially not racism ( 99% of white people dont fit that market, I’m sure). I just don’t he knows what to think and the writer was provoking him…Does what I said make sense? (BTW, oprah has never event met Tommy Hilfiger, so that was purely urban legend. However rumor and misenterpretation doesnt stop stupid boycotts.

    John Deere Action Jackson said “To be fair to the guy from Cristal, he did not say that and was not quoted as saying that. The writer added that. It’s also tough to say if what he said was misconstrued or not. He was probably ambushed by the writer basically trying to make something controversial. There are also different ways to read what he said about Dom and Krug.

    “Louis Roederer, said the company viewed the affection for his company’s champagne from rappers and their fans with “curiosity and serenity.”

    Asked by the magazine if the association between Cristal and the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental, Rouzaud replied:

    “That’s a good question, but what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.”

    Let’s see, “curiosity” means he is curious..Maybe he just doesnt understand why rappers promote the product. Frankly neither do I. I see nothing negative about curiousity.

    Serenity… The Dictionary says “repose: a disposition free from stress or emotion ”

    There is nothing negative about serenity. In fact just the opposite. Thus, “with curiousity and serenity” is like saying ” we dont know why they like Cristal or what to make of it, but we dont mind.”

    Also note the writer/interviewer was the one who provoked him by asking posing that assocation with hip-hop might/could be “detrimental”… He basically answered “I don’t know.” and what was said about Dom and Krug doesnt mean he was saying he would RATHER they buy DOm instead. He could have been relating that he is sure they wouldnt mind, so why would he.

    I think some people could use a dictionary and step-up reading comprehension and interpretation skills. Reporters ask leading questions and misquote people or edit things to sell their articles. It is very likely that the man meant no harm, in fact he said that.

    Now I wonder what he is thinking more, that he is sorry or that “hip-hop people” are just stupid and dont know how to read?”

  25. When I was a bartender, I constantly got orders from the hip-hop crowd for things like Remy Martin and pineapple, or Courvoisier and Diet Coke with seven maraschino cherries.

    What?

  26. john deere:

    “…what can we do? we can’t forbid people from buying it.”

    That would be the offender. Wow, I thought Bill O’Rielley was the only white person to tell people when they were and weren’t experiencing racism.

    Let’s recast this for insensitive white people: just say you’re a total Dockers khaki button down yuppie. But you buy all of The White Stripe’s albums, tell everyone about them, etc. etc. Finally you get to meet Jack White backstage and he looks at you and says, “Well, I guess we can’t control who buys our music.”

    That’s what this is. It’s Rudolph the Red-nised Reindeer, The Karate Kid, Pretty in Pink, Revenge of the Nerds. Get it now?

  27. Hip Hop makes money in the billions for itself and corporations. People like Jay -Z are astute to this fact and position their brands to profit off of brands like Cristal try. I think Cristal has an image they want to uphold and I am sure Hip Hop was not their target demo. I find it curious after making allot of money off of Hip Hop consumption, BET & MTV free product placement now Cristal wants to distant their brand from that demographic. Now that Hip Hop has brought Cristal to the mainstream via free ad mentions. Cristal wants to now use the opportunity to re-connect with its target demo (free of charge thanks to Hip Hop).A Savvy strategy but I don’t call it racist. If I being an African American had a brand of Automobile like Maybach I would not want Flavor Flav driving around “acting out” in my brand. I would not want product placement in videos with scantily clad women being groped and Cristal being poured on them. The fact about high end prestige brands is yes they are about excess and extravagance but subdued behind private quarters. Act like you been there before don’t make a Maybach or Cristal seem common by placing the product in brand compromising situations. Rappers take these brands and showcase them to consumers who cannot even afford them for the purpose of bravado. The brands themselves don’t want placement in Wal-Mart because that is not the marketing strategy. The Ying Yang twins promoting Cristal dilutes the brand that works against the marketing strategy. It is just business not racism. Jay-Z would not want nerds wearing his rocawear clothing brand. You see Sean John’s product placement and it is always sexy and attractive they would not feature a nerd because of their brand strategy. So it is not racism it is just business. I doubt Cristal would disapprove of Will Smith or Michael Jordan promoting the product. Hip Hop has been a culture of rip-off whether it be stealing samples for beats or stealing icons of rich decadence like Cristal and remix-in it to validate the genre. Jay needs not hate on Cristal, Cristal helped make his brand. Rappers have used prestige brands to validate or be a co/signer to establish their own identity. Think about it? What is the image of Roca-fella records or Jay-Z? It is Cristal sipping, Maybach riding, 7 jeans etc etc and oh yeah by the way I am a great rapper. Hip Hop ought to be glad companies have not sued them for copyright infringement. P. Diddy builds his brand off of un-official brand endorsements like Versace, Rolex, and Bentley etc. I call it ?Icon Sampling?, Hip Hop samples cultural icons, prestige brands and the icons have allowed hip hop to endorse their brands out of fear of accusations of racism. Plus it increases these brands bottom line without paid endorsement. Everybody got what they wanted. Why cry about it now Jay-Z?? You never had an official endorsement deal with Cristal and they don’t owe you one. That is just the nature of the beast. ?Don?t hate the player (Cristal) hate the game (Hip Hop)?
    holla

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