Pauly D's Skinnygirl-Sized Gamble
Jersey Shore introduced GTL and DTF into the pop-culture vocabulary. Now one of its stars, Pauly D (real name: Paul DelVecchio), wants to popularize RTD, or ready-to-drink. DelVecchio hopes to re-create the success of Bethenny Frankel's Skinnygirl Cocktails with Remix, a premixed vodka concoction to be marketed as a "pregame" beverage for the club-hopping set. To that end, DelVecchio, 31, has partnered with David Kanbar, co-founder of Skinnygirl, and brought out of retirement Tom Bruno, formerly of Sidney Frank Importing Co., which counts Grey Goose among its high-end brands. "I'm 61 years old, so I'm not part of the Jersey Shore phenomenon," Bruno tells THR. "But I found Pauly to be very sincere, endearing and incredibly well-thought-out about what he wanted to do. He sounded a lot like I did a long time ago, and it convinced me to take another swing." Kanbar, who made headlines in March 2011 for negotiating the $100 million purchase of Frankel's Skinnygirl Margarita, saw an opportunity with a sweet 13.99 percent alcohol by volume vodka drink (suggested retail price: $14.99) that boasts such Shore-ready names as Oye Mojito, Yeah Yumberry and Strawberry Holla-peno. "He really hit on a market that has been underserved in the ready-to-drink category," says Kanbar. "I was intrigued." The payoff could be big for DelVecchio, who earned $4 million for each of the last two seasons of Shore in addition to starring in an MTV spinoff, The Pauly D Project, and touring as an in-demand DJ. The premixed vodka beverage market has seen a spike of 11 percent during the past year, according to market analyst SymphonyIRI, with Mike's Hard Lemonade counting sales of $296 million in 2011 (a 30 percent market share). With Remix expected to arrive to retailers in mid-June, orders are coming in fast and furious, but the effort is not without risk. "A lot of celebrities come out with brands that don't make any sense, and because of that, they don't tend to resonate with consumers," says Bruno. "This is something very authentic. It comes from Pauly, and it meshes well with and grows organically out of his lifestyle." Indeed, DelVecchio, who is an investing partner (his reps include managers Michael Morgan and Adam Leber, the latter of whom also handles Britney Spears) along with corporate marketing whiz Jessica Stark and Mehran Farhat, Tori Spelling's brand development partner, has an entire messaging concept based around images of turntables and cocktails. "I'm mixing drinks and mixing records," he says. "Remix basically describes my life and what I'm passionate about."