A few weeks ago, Jay-Z announced he was boycotting Cristal at his clubs after the champagne company's president indicated that he wasn't thrilled about the brand's association with hip-hop culture -- comments the rapper called "racist."
Frederic Rouzaud is the president and chief executive of Champagne Louis Roederer -- a 230-year-old French company that makes the bubbly.
In a recent issue of The Economist magazine, Rouzaud said the company viewed the affection for its 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."
An executive at Mercedes-Benz viewed the attention from a business standpoint.
"Hip-hop is really a language of the younger generation and it's always great for a brand to be relevant with the younger or next generation of buyers," said Kass Dawson, who heads emerged markets at Mercedes-Benz.
"We consider it a compliment of the highest order," Dawson said, adding that Mercedes has sponsored events related to awards shows and hip-hop magazine parties. "It really speaks to what our brand stands for -- the success, status, aspirations."
After Jay-Z announced the boycott of Cristal, Rouzaud issued a statement to "set the record straight and express our gratitude that people from a diversity of cultures and countries have been enjoying our wine."
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We think poor Rouzaud keeps missing the point, which was well put by Dawson at Mercedes. This is not an issue of cultural diversity. It’s a straightforward issue of Success, Status and Aspiration. Cristal has needlessly burst its own bubble.