Ayala revives ‘golden age’20th February, 2014 by Gabriel Savage
Champagne Ayala has unveiled a new look as part of a mission to raise awareness of its rich history, in particular within the UK market.
Hadrien Mouflard, who took over as president of Champagne Ayala just over a year ago, showed off the new black packaging for the house’s non vintage Brut Majeur at the annual London tasting held by UK agent Mentzendorff.
Describing this development as “a very exciting project for the brand,” Mouflard continued, “There is only one goal for Ayala today: we want to reinstate it as the truly historic house that is it in Champagne. We have all the elements that we need to succeed.”
The new packaging and wider marketing communication now adopted by Ayala have been inspired by art deco designs found in the house’s archives from the 1920s, a period referred to by Mouflard as “the golden age of Ayala.” He described the black label as “much cleaner and much more powerful, which is important to reinforce the visibility of the brand.”
Last September also saw Ayala complete the construction of new hospitality facilities in Aÿ. According to Mouflaud, the development allows the house “to receive professionals and give them the full picture of what we do at Ayala.”
Founded in 1860, Aÿ-based Ayala was a founding member of the Syndicat des Grandes Marques to Champagne when it was set up in 1882.
The house took an early lead in the trend towards drier Champagnes, a style particularly popular with the UK, by introducing a 20g/l offering in 1865 at a time when many houses were closer to 65g/l. Its close ties with the UK were further strengthened by the award of a Royal Warrant in 1908.
In 2005 Ayala was bought by Champagne Bollinger. While the two houses have retained a distinct brand and stylistic identity, Bollinger CEO Jérôme Philipon highlighted the
value of this association.
“The big competition in Champagne is about supply, gaining access to the best grapes,” he remarked. “Ayala has very limited vineyards but now through Bollinger it is able to get good access to high quality grapes.”
Etienne Bizot, chairman of Champagne Bollinger, set this marketing work within a wider context, saying: “We are already bringing a long-term vision to the brand and international distribution. We have great, exciting ambitions for the brand Ayala and the UK is an important part of that.”
Meanwhile Mentzendorff managing director Andrew Hawes commented more specifically on what these changes mean for the brand in the UK market, telling the drinks business: “There’s no fundamental repositioning on price, which was optimal already. It’s really about getting the marketing, the history of the brand across, which is a strong one.”
For the moment, he explained that the primary focus remained on reinvigorating Ayala’s historic area of strength. “The heart of Ayala, where we began rebuilding the brand 10 years ago, is the upper end of the London on-trade,” said Hawes.
Pointing to listings such as The Goring Hotel and Gordon Ramsay restaurants, where Ayala has been the house Champagne “for the better part of a decade,” as well as a growing distribution in gentleman’s clubs, Hawes summed up: “It’s all been building pace extremely well. We’re tapping into a lot of residual memory.”
However, he added: “In order to make it more appealing to consumers in the off-trade we needed to address the packaging.” Last year saw the brand take another important step forward in the off-trade by establishing a listing with Waitrose.