'Godfather'-branded vodka to launch in April

Paramount, Iconic Brands team for themed organic liquor

Paramount Pictures and Iconic Brands this week announced their upcoming launch of The Godfather Italian Organic Vodka.

Branded after the classic film "The Godfather," the imported Italian vodka will begin rolling out in April 2010. "The celebrity niche in the drink sector these days is somewhat in vogue and lots of people are trying to do it," said Richard DeCicco, CEO of Iconic Brands. "I think Paramount is realizing what a powerful brand 'The Godfather' is. The fact that 'The Godfather' has been the No. 1 grossing movie of all time, there seemed to be a nice opportunity."

From Dan Aykroyd's Crystal Head Vodka to Hendrix Electric Vodka to Trump Vodka, there has been no shortage of celebrity-branded spirits and wines. Success often has more to do with what's in the bottle and how it's supported rather than just a name, said Arthur Shapiro, an alcohol consultant and founder and principal of AM Shapiro and Associates.

"The Godfather Vodka sounds a little bit like its hokey. The brand would need more going for it than merely the linkage and the borrowed credentials of the motion picture."

Iconic and Paramount are planning on-premise and off-premise promotional efforts to support the launch. "We're very confident, in the liquid quality and in the taste profile, that people will be very much attracted and will want to make (The Godfather Vodka) a part of their portfolio," said DeCicco.

Despite the fact that the U.S. vodka segment is a 50 million case category, new vodkas often struggle, said Shapiro. "You can't just come up with something and you're going to get some traction but it doesn't really always work that way," he said. "The key to the business is: What is the retailer going to drop in order to accommodate this new product? And the answer to that question (has to be a) compelling sales proposition. It can't just be a name.