Hennessy Multicultural Marketing

How Hennessy Raised a Glass to the Lunar New Year and Resonant Multicultural Marketing

It’s hard to replicate the multisensory environment of a nightlife event through a screen, but to infuse a rich and relevant dose of culture on top of that is an added challenge Hennessy is well equipped to meet. The brand, which puts celebrating cultural diversity at the heart of its organization and its marketing, created a multi-layered “X.O OX Lunar New Year” stream on Facebook Live where viewers raised a glass of Hennessy X.O cognac.

Hosted Feb. 18 at the height of the Lunar New Year celebration (not before or after—and that was intentional), the virtual charity event was designed to spotlight influential icons, entrepreneurs, and small business owners in the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities who “embody the resilient drive of the ox,” for the Year of the Ox, with performances, culinary demonstrations and art.

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“Our objective is to build multi-generational affinity for Hennessy X.O., and this is very personal to me because I am Asian American and I watched my parents growing up enjoying Hennessy X.O,” says Christine Ngo Isaac, director-consumer engagement at Hennessy U.S. “That generation has passed the love of X.O onto my generation, so what we want to do is further drive that affinity but in a modern way.”

Hennessy global ambassador Henry Golding co-hosted the event with digital host and gaming personality AtomicMari. Among highlights: filmmaker and restaurateur Eddie Huang demonstrated his favorite Lunar New Year dish, paired with Hennessy X.O and V.S.O. Privilège cocktails by mixologist Cari Hah. Viewers enjoyed special performances from rapper producer and dancer Jay Park; rapper Dumbfoundead (Jonathan Park); singer-songwriter MILCK, as well as a dance routine by the group Kinjaz. In addition, Hennessy collaborated with Chinese artist Liu Wei on limited-release packaging for Hennessy X.O and V.S.O.P Privilège, which was woven into the event backdrop and branding.

Artist Liu Wei contributed custom designs for packaging and the event branding.

For the charitable layer, Hennessy encouraged viewers to support local businesses and promoted its pledge to donate $250,000 to support Asian American, Black and Latinx small businesses impacted by the pandemic as part of the brand’s “Unfinished Business” initiative. The program also included moments of solidarity surrounding recent hate crimes being committed against the Asian American community.

Behind the scenes, Hennessy partnered with Admerasia, an Asian American-owned agency to help bring the program to life. This partnership, combined with Hennessy’s own diverse representation within its marketing organization, led to authentic moments the viewers could appreciate. “There are moments where if you’re Asian American you’ll say, ‘Oh, you’re speaking to me. I’ve never seen a brand speak to me like that before, certainly not a luxury brand,’” Ngo Isaac said ahead of the event.

Another authentic and relevant component to the event: the timing. Lunar New Year is a two-week celebration and the media cycle often starts talking about Lunar New Year before it happens, but “that’s not where consumers live,” Ngo Isaac says. In fact, the first weekend of the Lunar New Year is typically a family-focused times, so Hennessy targeted the event for midway through the celebration.

Following the event, Hennessy published cut-downs of the livestream for its social media channels to maximize the content from the event and take advantage of that Lunar New Year timeline. Agencies: Admerasia (production); Secret Agents (production, streaming); BCW Global (p.r.); Dentsu (paid media); Laundry Service (social media); PMG (p.r.); L3 Advertising (p.r.).

Rachel Boucher
Posted by Rachel Boucher

Rachel joined Event Marketer in 2012 and today serves as the brand's head of content. Her travels covering the experiential marketing indust ry have ranged from CES in Las Vegas to Spring Break in Panama City Beach, Florida (hey, it's never too late)—and everywhere in between.
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