This weekend when we opened the “Sunday Styles” section of the Times, we were startled to see the “Cointreau Teese” honored in the paper’s weekly “Shaken and Stirred” column. It’s normally an alcoholic beverage that has been invented at a local (or fancy international) bar, or a cocktail with an interesting heritage. But this week’s offering was just a rehashing of a party that took place a few weeks ago as a publicity stunt for Cointreau, the tasty old-timey orange liqueur that has been spending millions of dollars trying to reinvent itself of late. Its most recent effort is a partnership with Dita Von Teese, the burlesque star whose fame we have never really understood. The brand created a new cocktail, the Cointreau Teese, and has been shoving Dita all around the country promoting it. When we first heard of this publicity barrage, we thought it was a little bit ridiculous. It (like the Belvedere Jagger Dagger) was one of a couple of liquor PR gambits that seemed doomed for cheesy failure. But then it totally worked. Publicists from Dan Klores Communications slaved overtime getting the word out and sending out giant orange feathered fan invites (we have two on our desk, in case we have a drag emergency) to a party at Angel Orensanz Foundation for Dita and her new cocktail. The titillator and her tipple appeared, in all seriousness, in publications like the Observer, the Daily News, and the Post: places where celebrity endorsements are de rigueur, to be sure, but the Times? That’s, like, almost legitimate!
As impressed as we were by the cultural permeation of the Cointreau Teese, we were blown away by something even more far-fetched: the Jagger Dagger. The Dagger was invented by the creative minds at Belvedere Vodka (if you go to their Website, there’s a Terry Richardson film commercial to watch, starring Vincent Gallo. It’s that kind of company.) Basically, they spent millions of dollars getting Jade Jagger (daughter of Mick) to design and promote a $250,000 ice pick. The PR geniuses at LaForce & Stevens had events all over the country, including one at — surprise! — the Angel Orensanz Foundation. For their troubles, they got stories in the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mail, the Observer, and even a “scandalous” “Page Six” lead item about how Jade may have copied the design from a Nazi sword. As Dita might say, “How Cointreauversial!” You can’t pay for that kind of publicity. Or, well, actually, you can.