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Tego Blends In With Hennessy
BY Randy Luna
February 14, 2004
PUERTO RICO -- For a major artist, starring in a brand-marketing campaign is not unusual. But it is rare for an artist who released his debut album only 12 months ago.
That is exactly what has happened to reggaeton artist Tego Calderon, who is now the official face of Hennessy Cognac.
The liquor brand is using the Puerto Rican artist's image in a new extension to its Never Blend In marketing campaign, which kicked off in 2003.
The campaign celebrates musical talents that are distinctive and unique. Its first featured Latin artist was Saul Hernandez, lead signer of Mexican rock band Jaguares (Billboard, Oct. 11, 2003).
The campaign is unusual in that it runs without giving the name of the artist or--in the case of radio spots--without playing the music.
The campaign includes cash compensation and advertising commitments and calls for Calderon to appear at four Hennessy-sponsored events.
The campaign sees Calderon on billboards in 10 major markets across the U.S. and in ads in regional and national publications, including Urban Latino and Maxim en Espanol. It also includes such point-of-sale items as posters and counter displays and radio spots in English and Spanish, with Calderon explaining what it means to him to "never blend in."
"I am very excited, because the people who have done [the campaign] are Rahkeem, who is my idol, and Isaac Hayes," Calderon says. "These are special people, very talented. I felt honored."
Hennessy senior brand manager John Santos says, "He is the perfect example [of an artist] that embodies the idea, and pioneers the experience, of 'never blend in.'
"He has been successful by staying true to himself. He doesn't fit the mold and creates a really lasting impression."
Calderon is one of the most prominent reggaeton artists in the market and arguably the one who has most broadened the scope of the relatively new genre. Calderon's debut album, "El Abayarde" (White Lion/BMG), has scanned 40,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
His sophomore album, "El Enemy de los Guasibiri," also on White Lion/BMG, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Top Latin Albums chart in the Jan. 31 issue. The set is a collection of tracks from other artists' albums--all released prior to "El Abayarde"--that feature Calderon as a guest vocalist. Calderon has also recorded with such acts as Wyclef Jean, 50 Cent, Cypress Hill and Roselyn Sanchez.
Calderon's popularity in major markets was attractive to Hennessy.
"Because of the popularity achieved by Tego in New York, which is a very important market for [Hennessy], they took notice of his career," says Luis Gonzalez, Calderon's manager. "Also, Tego loves the cognac. So [the campaign] is real."
Calderon is scheduled to perform in the coming months in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua and on the U.S. West Coast.