Hennessy asks millennials to find "The Wild Rabbit"

Stephen Whiteside

Few brands boast the history or iconic status of Hennessy cognac. Founded in 1765 and produced in the city of Cognac itself, the drink has long been associated with class and sophistication. Such is its cachet and crossover success that – in more modern times – it has featured in a huge number of songs by rap and hip-hop artists such as Eminem, Tupac, The Notorious BIG and Dr Dre.

In reflection of this heritage and innate appeal, Hennessy is the fifth-largest player in the global super-premium spirits category by volume, and the second-largest by value sales. And while demand had reached a plateau during the financial crisis, it did not plummet, a fate many of its rivals suffered in a fragmented and increasingly competitive market.

But as Rodney Williams, svp of Hennessy USA, told delegates at the 2013 Masters of Marketing conference run by the Association of National Advertisers, its ambitions were far greater. "As part of a luxury brand group, our aspirations are to become number one, and to become the most aspirational super-premium spirits brand in the US to its target consumer," he said.

The challenge