While busy researching the promised Promotional Vehicles blog I was reminded of one of the first and
greatest ‘promotors’ Eugene Mercier. Only 20 years old when he founded his Champagne House in Epernay in 1858, he was very aware that a good product well promoted would sell and make money.
In 1889 he took a giant barrel containing 1600 hectolitres or around 200,000 bottle of champagne to Paris, to the World Exhibition. This 20 ton barrel – maybe the world’s first promotional vehicle – took 8 days, 12 pairs of oxen and 18 horses to make the journey from Epernay to Paris where it was received with great delight and was only overshadowed by the new Eiffel Tower.
Eugene continued with marketing firsts with the first ‘movie’ advert at the 1900 World Exhibition, the first cellar tours and offering Champagne Balloon flights.
In 1950 his Grandson Jacques Mercier in partnership with Renault promoted both their products by organising a ‘Champagne Rally’ through the cellar tunnels in Renault 4cv’s loaded up with bottles of champagne. The front car in the pictures was a convertible with a huge bottle of Mercier on the back seat sticking out of the roof. The event created a great deal of interest and apparently not a single bottle got broken, although I imagine a fair few got consumed!
As well as appreciating classic cars I am also rather partial to a glass of bubbly so quite a few years ago we took ‘Regie’ our 4cv convertible to the Mercier cellars. If you get a chance to visit it is a really interesting tour, part of which is a journey through the cellars by train. Mercier were delighted to see the 4cv there but unfortunately they wouldn’t let us drive Regie through the tunnels, although we did get to sample some Champagne and it remains one of my favourites, especially the ‘Eugene’s special blend’ which is supposed to taste the same as the original production.