If the name Curtis Jackson III doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognize him by his professional name: 50 Cent.
As one of music’s most successful and respected recording artists, New York Times Best-Selling Author and executive producer, Jackson has built a career that many can only dream of – including tens of millions of records sold, multiple hit television and film projects, a Grammy, three Emmy Awards, and countless other industry recognitions. But it is his current business venture, Sire Spirits, the parent company of the highly regarded and much awarded Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne for which Jackson is most proud.
Founded in 2017 with the goal of presenting consumers with products of the highest quality, Sire Spirits, and its core brands are made to exacting standards, with Jackson – who, unlike many celebrity brand partners that lend their names in exchange for a small piece of the business, owns 100% of the company – taking part in every step of the decision process. This includes annual visits to France to meet with his suppliers, sample new blends and personally design packaging upgrades. This is in addition to the constant marketing, in-person promotions and sales calls Jackson plans and oversees.
To that end, as one of the most recognized celebrities in the world, Jackson knows if he shows up somewhere to promote his products, lots of people will go out of their way to see him. While many celebrities a lot less famous hide from their fame, he Jackson embraces it and appreciates his fans. His reputation of consistently going the extra mile to engage with people who buy bottles of his cognac and champagne is unparalleled. On many occasions, he has turned a pre-arranged two-hour commitment into a six-hour marathon so that every single customer who lined up has a chance to meet and take a photo with him.
Keenly aware of the perception that celebrity-endorsed brands sometimes lack quality and staying power, Jackson is building his brand from the ground up with a clear vision to be the best in class amongst his competitors. For that reason, he’s committed to only releasing products that withstand the scrutiny of top wine and spirits experts – and Jackson’s brands have done just that, winning some of the most prestigious and coveted awards given to wines and spirits, including multiple gold medals, 90+ ratings and best in show recognitions.
Why Jackson puts so much effort into wine and spirits is directly related to the inspiration for the name of the company, Sire Spirits. Jackson explains, “I named the company after my son Sire Jackson, who I hope will someday run the company when he grows up. I always dreamed of having a family-owned business, but my family neither had the means nor the opportunity to create it. Today, the concept of valuing and supporting black-owned businesses has become a mainstream goal. Those who value the concept of supporting black-owned brands and businesses, should take comfort in making Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi (translated as “The Kings Path”) the only Cognac and Champagne you drink.”
It’s a personal philosophy that has steered Jackson all his adult life, with music, acting, producing and in financial ventures, where his astute business acumen has landed him many notable successes, which now includes Sire Spirits. Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne are now also garnering the attention of professional sports teams. In the last few months, multiple NBA, NFL and MLB owners have made Jackson’s cognac and champagne the Official Cognac and Champagne of their teams. These are the types of deals that brands that are much larger and more established typically land. Jackson credits this trend as a recognition that his brands are competing at the highest levels and here to stay.
Santé Magazine’s Spirits Editor, David Ransom, sat down with 50 Cent to gain insight into his company, brands, and philosophy.
DR: What takeaways from your past do you bring to your management of Sire Spirits and its core brands, Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne?
50 Cent: Premium spirits such as Cognac and Champagne are an important part of music culture. People typically consume these products where music is played – such as sports events, weddings, nightclubs, restaurants, and holiday parties. If you think about it, the most popular champagne and cognac brands receive some of the best advertising in music, videos and nightlife — aspirational lifestyle still drives business.
DR: Your company, Sire Spirits, makes cognac under the Branson label and Champagnes with Le Chemin du Roi, which have garnered numerous awards and accolades from both wine and spirits industry competitions and impressed journalists alike. As a multiple award-winning artist, how gratifying is it to realize that your efforts are getting these accolades outside your own industry, and what does it speak to regarding your brand mission?
50 Cent: It is extremely important to me that the quality and cost of my products be on par with or better than all top brands. This is why we submit our cognac and champagne for international awards and keep winning them. Without that level of confirmed quality, we would not have been able to secure our sports partnerships or remain strategically aligned with well-respected national chains such as Landry’s, Caesars Entertainment, and large retailers such as Walmart. Our core mission is to build the most loyal consumer following that has ever existed.
DR: Your approach to marketing your brands includes the usual clubs and celebrity hangouts but also mainstream retailers, like Total Wines & More and supermarkets. What do you feel separates your brands from those of other celebrities, and what do you want consumers to know about both Branson Cognac and Le Chemin du Roi Champagne?
50 Cent: My approach to marketing is that it needs to be organic. For my brands to be successful, they don’t need to be everywhere. We need them in the right places, being consumed by the right people. Working with chain accounts can be extremely efficient, but I never overlook the value of building relationships with local restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and retail stores that truly want to see my brands succeed. Because I actually take the time to meet and speak with small business owners, the connection to my brands becomes more personal. They work harder and provide a level of support that you could not otherwise achieve. This is why you see me traveling to places that other celebrities and brands don’t care to visit. I often joke with owners that they only need to support us until the owners of our competitors actually take the time to stop in and say hello to them too.
Branson Cognac is specially blended to meet Jackson’s custom flavor profiles with some of the best Cognac produced in the region, and is available in the following expressions: Branson Phantom (aged a minimum of 3 years, $49), Branson Royal (4 years, $59), Branson VSOP (4 years, $69) and Branson X.O. (10 years, $249).
Le Chemin du Roi Champagne utilizes some of the finest cru vineyards in the Champagne region in crafting its cuvees, including those of Montagne de Riems and Cotes de Blancs. Brut (aged 4 years on lees, $160), Rosé (4 years, $325), Brut Luminous (4 years, $160), and Blanc de Blancs (10 years, $999).