Jun 10 2009

The Not-So-Subtle Sex Appeal of Modern Champagne

By Brett Ashley McKenzie

Earlier this week, I returned home from my Hawaiian honeymoon (more on the amazing food and wine we enjoyed later) to find the June 30th issue of Wine Spectator crammed into my mailbox. Immediately following a depressing story on how the Vegas restaurant industry is suffering in the wake of the global economic crisis, I was surprised to read this item in the “newsmakers” section:

“Champagne house Mo√ęt & Chandon announced in April that Scarlett Johansson will be a brand ambassador.”

I re-read this a few times with an eyebrow raised. According to WS, “steamy ads” of the sultry Hollywood starlet will run exclusively in Europe (sorry, men of the United States).

One of Scarlett Johannsson's European Moet & Chandon ads.

One of Scarlett Johannsson's European Moet & Chandon ads.

This bugs me for two reasons.

First, absolutely nothing against Scarlett Johansson, but there are a plethora of beautiful French actresses who would seem a more logical fit for such a genuinely French product. Perhaps someone like Eva Green, just one of a number of French-born Bond girls. In “Casino Royale,” she radiated sophistication and beauty–and, according to the four guys I saw the film with–sex appeal. Or even Angelina Jolie, who actually is part French… but perhaps she’s too busy being a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador to worry about something as insignificant as shooting sexy commercials for Champagne.

Second–and I say this just two days back from my honeymoon, where every room we stayed in was stocked with complimentary bubbly–Champagne is sexy enough on its own.

Champagne doesn’t need a screen siren brand ambassador to sell its sex appeal. Everything about Champagne, from the bottle to the bubbles to the little light-headed feeling some of us get after a second glass to the temperature it’s served at, is sexy. That’s why it’s the beverage of choice for honeymooners, anniversary celebrators, and of course, the undeniably romantic French.

Champagne is so exclusive that the word itself is trademarked and protected, and hell hath no fury like Champagne’s winemakers when they learn that another region’s bubbly is being bottled under their name or methode. So why is the world’s largest Champagne house borrowing a Hollywood film star as its spokesperson? It’s not even original; she’s done commercials for Calvin Klein (as American as it gets) and L’Oreal (another French label), among others.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. But as far as I’m concerned, the best Champagne sells itself.

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