Crown Royal On The 'Cutting Edge'

One of Crown Royal's latest initiatives takes the concept of "cutting-edge" literally.

The maker of the world's No. 1 Canadian whiskey has renovated 11 barbershops since 2005 in a marketing effort aimed at African-Americans, and plans to refurbish 12 more by June, based on feedback from consumers and barbershop owners.

Diageo, owner of Crown Royal, identified that in the African-American culture, the neighborhood barbershop is a place where people of all economic classes come to talk about events, hang out, and be entertained--while getting their hair trimmed.

Giovanni Sgro, multicultural brand manager for Crown Royal, said the company was looking to reach out to the barbershops and their owners because "we felt we would have a great opportunity to have an impact on the community."

The Crown Royal Barbershop program has refurbished barbershops in several major cities--including Chicago, Houston, New York, St. Louis, and Philadelphia.

Designed to support talented entrepreneurs who have made a positive impact on their communities, the Crown Royal Barbershop is the first renovation program of its kind to launch nationwide, the company said.



The program incorporates the "royal" treatment into each establishment--an interior makeover that transforms the shop into a place "fit for a king," complete with custom barber chairs, flat-screen televisions, neon lighting, and a fresh coat of paint featuring Crown Royal signature colors--purple and gold.

Mintel spokesperson Chanda Rowan called the effort, which is backed only by video footage on the Crown Royal Web site, "an opportunity for them to revive a community treasure. The barbershop is rich with history and has a strong association among the African-American community. It's so much more than a place to get your hair cut. Crown Royal took the time to invest in an entity and they've made a true statement."

As with past Crown Royal Barbershop events, the most recent in Los Angeles attracted notable celebrity support--with Toccara Jones, star of "America's Next Top Model," serving as the official Crown Royal Barbershop hostess and spokesperson, and Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Clark Duncan ("The Green Mile") in attendance.

Crown Royal is the No. 4 spirit by value and the No. 6 spirit by volume, according to the Adams Handbook. Declining to specify whether the effort has boosted sales, Sgro said the company has measured an "impact on perception."

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