Interview with Managing Director of Zarb Champagne
It’s an economic crisis, you live in the Netherlands (most down-to-earth country there is) and you start a champagne brand. Why?
www.they.nl). During a friday afternoon drink they spoke about champagne, and wondered why champagne bottles always look the same. Why so traditional and never more creative? Is it possible to create a new, arty champagne brand? As a result of the curiosity they started to do a some research. Soon they found the right partners, who had expertise in wine and contacts in the wine and champagne industry. And together they found a champagne producer who liked the idea of combining art and champagne and trying something new. However, before they could start, the champagne authority (CIVC) had to approve the brand. And to everybody’s surprise they did. And Zarb was born (Zarb stand for ‘bizar’ in French slang l’ Argot).
They asked me to help with the launch of the champagne brand (Raymond used to work for THEY). We started to look for artists to execute the concepts for the first line of bottles, for example Dutch fashion photographer Cornelie Tollens. In november of 2009 we did the launch in Hotel Arena. And since March 2011 Zarb stands on its own feet as an independent company with international exposure and growth.
How did the press respond?
The press was very enthusiastic. Funny thing is, automatically the right type of press and audience (creative, design and fashion) started to write about Zarb. National, as well as international. After the launch, everything started to role. It was like a snowball-effect.
Because the international press was so enthusiastic, we started to expand to: France, the States and Canada. In the States we got a lot of help from Touriya Haoud and her husband Greg Vaughan. Touriya has her own PR agency and helps Dutch brands, those she likes, to become successful in the States. Touriya organized our champagne to be served at an event hosted by Eva Longoria, in LA. And maybe very soon Zarb will be placed in a very popular TV series…
Unfortunately we do not have the large marketing budgets other brands have. However, this is also the exciting part about the brand. We are so unique, there is not another champagne brand like Zarb. All other champagne brands are far more classic. Of course there are some brands who sometimes make special edition bottles, however not like Zarb. Every year, in December we launch a new collection of champagne bottles for which Zarb’s own creative directors create the concept and execute it together with an internationally acclaimed artist. We want to make the bottles so special, that the media want to write about them and of course the consumers want to buy them. We choose December, because this is the month that most of the champagne is sold. And the champagne itself is very nice as well. It is a very easy to drink champagne, with a unique look and very reasonably priced at €35,- per bottle, any design.
Besides our regular collection we also have some very beautiful unique bottles, handmade by Dutch artists. These were exhibited in our own pop-up store in Amsterdam’s fashionable Berenstraat last December. We are planning to do the same in for example Paris. This turns out to be a very interesting and sympathetic way of creating a buzz too. And adding to our strategy of making our bottle the hero.
What is the best spot you ever drank champagne?
That sounds like a good time to me! And with who do you hope to drink a glass of champagne once?
I would love to drink a glass of champagne with Bernard Arnault, the CEO of LVMH (largest luxury products company in the world). Since he owns the big champagne brands like Moët et Chandon, Dom Perignon, Krug, Ruinart and Veuve Clicqout. I am very curious what he thinks of our brand. Preferably in Shanghai obviously!