Jay-Z and luxury goods giant LVMH have a reason to break out the bubbly. LVMH, which owns Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon, has taken a 50% stake in Jay-Z’s Champagne brand Armand de Brignac, also known as “Ace of Spades.” The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The partnership comes at a time when LVMH is working to appeal to a more diverse clientele. The luxury sector has long been criticized for cultural appropriation, high-profile racist gaffes and a lack of runway diversity.
LVMH recently revealed tennis champion Naomi Osaka as its new brand ambassador. During the US open, Osaka was praised for supporting the Black Lives Matter protests that started over the summer. It has also collaborated with skateboarder Lucien Clark on apparel and a skate shoe.
And a few years ago, it partnered with singer Rihanna on Fenty Fashion House, making her the first Black woman to lead an original brand with LVMH. Fenty Fashion House was recently discontinued. But LVMH said it will continue to support other elements of the Fenty empire, concentrating on “the growth and long-term development” of beauty and skincare lines Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin, as well as lingerie line Savage X Fenty, which just raised $115 million to help it expand into retail.
“LVMH is a brand that has quite a wide appeal. It serves lots of different markets,” said Neil Saunders, retail industry analyst and managing director of GlobalData. By diversifying its marketing efforts and expanding its portfolio, it can help reach “audiences that are very important, but perhaps have been traditionally underrepresented in luxury,” he said. The partnership with Jay-Z “certainly helps as part of that effort.”
The deal comes in the wake of a difficult year for Champagne, as sales fell due to canceled celebrations and restrictions on indoor dining during the coronavirus pandemic. Shipments of Champagne fell 18% in 2020 compared to 2019, according to CIVC, a Champagne trade group. At LVMH, Champagne volumes fell 19% in 2020, the company said in January.
“For years we have been following the fantastic success of Armand de Brignac and admiring their ability to challenge some of the rules of the Champagne category,” said Philippe Schaus, president and CEO of Moet Hennessy, in a release Monday. “Armand de Brignac breaks barriers and reflects contemporary luxury.”
Shawn Carter, who goes by Jay-Z, has long had an interest in Champagne. He used to champion Cristal, but began a boycott of the brand in 2006 after the head of the company that makes that Champagne, Frederic Rouzaud, made disparaging remarks about its popularity in the hip-hop community. “What can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it,” Rouzaud told The Economist at the time.
Instead of Cristal, Jay-Z turned his attention to Armand de Brignac. He featured the signature “Ace of Spades” bottle in a 2006 music video. Five years later, the beverage was the “Champagne toast of choice” at Kim Kardashian’s wedding to Kris Humphries. Jay-Z acquired the brand in 2014.
LVMH’s distribution strength and experience developing luxury brands “will give Armand de Brignac the commercial power it needs to grow and flourish even further,” said Jay-Z in a statement Monday.