CLOSE-UP: CLIENT OF THE WEEK - Droin takes ’eau’ down a level Perrier’s UK chief wants to lose the ’champagne’ tag. Emma Hall hears his plan.

If Nikita Droin has his way, we’ll all be seeing in the next millennium by raising a glass of water at midnight.

If Nikita Droin has his way, we’ll all be seeing in the next

millennium by raising a glass of water at midnight.



Not that he’s a party pooper. It’s just that as managing director of

Perrier Vittel UK, he is doing his best to convince the world that

drinking Perrier is as much fun as drinking champagne.



’We want our brand to fit in with the party mood,’ he says. To this end,

Ogilvy & Mather is launching a new campaign for Perrier - still the UK’s

best-selling mineral water brand - this week.



The advertising combines images of 20th-century icons with Perrier

bottles.



In each case, the two images are juxtaposed to put a new perspective on

the whole picture, hence we get to see famous faces, Einstein among

them, supping the French mineral water. The branding comes from the

prominence of the Perrier bottles and cans rather than a clever

strapline.



Appropriately enough, Perrier used to be billed as the champagne of

mineral waters. But now it wants to sell itself as a less exclusive

brand, and the ’eau’ campaign has been dropped in favour of the new,

informal advertising that distances Perrier from its residual reputation

as a yuppie status brand and promotes it as an everyday drink.



Droin has been with the brand since 1989, when he joined fresh from an

MBA at the City University of New York. His original remit was to

explore opportunities for extending the famous mineral water brand into

other categories, but since then he has worked in both corporate finance

and marketing for the company in Brazil, France and the UK.



’The water category is fascinating,’ he argues in his soft French

accent.



’Most people just think water is water, so it is very rewarding when you

show them that there are big differences in taste between the brands.

Perrier’s magic is in its big bubbles - everyone recognises it.’



Around the world, Perrier’s ambition is to be perceived as an

’irreverent and trend-setting’ drink. The new campaign - devised by O&M

Paris - is ideal in this respect, because the popular icons used in each

execution can be varied to suit the country in which the ad appears.



In New York, for instance, cutting-edge cartoon characters are de

rigueur, whereas in France, the ads bear images of Bruce Lee and Marty

Feldman.



Albert Einstein and Uncle Sam have been selected for the UK and in

Belgium Captain Haddock from the Tintin books is inadvertently knocking

back a Perrier.



Droin thinks the latest campaign, which has already run in other

territories, is particularly well suited to the UK. ’Perrier fits in

with the English. Both are irreverent but with a respect for tradition,’

he says.



Despite his French roots, Droin and his wife, daughter and three sons

will be in the UK to raise a glass of bubbly at the dawn of the year

2000.



’The Greenwich meridian is where it all starts,’ he says, ’England is

the place to be.’



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