Romance. Elegance. Luxury. Heritage. Champagne is the only beverage in the world that captures it all. The celebratory French bubbly carries with it a long history, and true authenticity. So creating a contemporary 21st century Champagne brand should be downright impossible. Yet that’s exactly what Viceroy did.
Viceroy had a vision for a new kind of Champagne. One that had Old World heart and soul, reimagined with a contemporary profile and attitude. One that could compete with the Champagnes currently on shelf: classics whose design hadn’t been touched in over 100 years. How to introduce a new contender and maintain the French heritage synonymous with Champagne?
We treated the project as a start-up, bringing in entrepreneurial partners to help the vision reach fruition. Viceroy came up with the brand strategy and devised initial packaging and promotional materials, all based on the concept of Champagne that a modern French aristocrat might create today. Our imaginary aristocrat would have an ancient lineage, complete with family crest, but be contemporary in style and attitude. He (or she) would be a member of the noblesse—nobility in the first degree. That was the inspiration for the brand name Noblesse, as well as for initial designs that included a present day interpretation of an ancient, aristocratic medallion that married heritage with modernity.
It wasn’t until after we completed the conceptual work and strategic positioning that we went to France to locate a vintner. We presented to a number of houses, including Maison Charpentier, an 8th generation winemaker with family vineyards dating back to before the French revolution. The Charpentier family fell in love with the concept and the Noblesse line of Champagnes was born.
But all production and trade of Champagne is controlled by CIVC, a French governmental agency. Everything, from what goes into the bottle as well as what’s on the label, requires their approval. Their process is much more subjective than any regulatory body in the U.S—starting with the name. Champagne monikers must be patronymic. We combined the first name of one of our partners with the last name of Viceroy’s CEO to create the parent branding, Michel Moritz, and then successfully navigated CIVC’s exacting standards and strict regulations in order to bring Noblesse Champagne to market.
The Noblesse collection contains three product lines, with a specific brand hierarchy. The non-vintage Noblesse Brut with green bottle and black and gold-crested label is the base brand. The Noblesse Brut D’Or line, which includes a brut and a rosé, comes in white bottles with 24k gold-plated and rose-gold plated crests; and the Noblesse Le Baron line, with subtler flavor profiling, hits the in-between price point.
We designed an elegant website that provided the depth and content needed to present a bubbly new brand as if it had a long and illustrious history. For the launch party in NYC, Viceroy invited a select gathering and key members of the press to experience Noblesse first hand. Jean-Marc Charpentier, owner of the vineyard, came in from France to lead the wine tasting.
Viceroy led the creation of a new brand from the moment of inception through rollout, overseeing strategic vision, creative concept, design, marketing, production and manufacturing. We successfully entered a category that has remained unchanged for almost a century. We had to adapt to some rules and invent new ones, all while keep the French Champagne tradition alive and making it sparkling new at the same time.