Allied Domecq is aiming to double its share of the £280m cream liqueur market - with the help of chat show host Graham Norton.
The drinks giant is spending £1m to sponsor the nightly V Graham Norton chat show on Channel 4 in the run-up to Christmas, a key period for the cream liqueur market. The campaign gets underway at the end of this month and is focused on Tia Lusso - a creamy version of coffee-based spirit Tia Maria - launched two years ago.
The British cream liqueur market is dominated by Baileys, the whiskey drink owned by larger rival, Diageo. In the off-trade alone, Baileys accounts for more than half the market while Tia Lusso, the second-biggest brand, accounts for just 5 per cent.
Baileys sponsors Sex and the City, set in New York, another Channel 4 series. But despite the popularity of the American show, Allied Domecq insist V Graham Norton is more suited to its target, female audience.
Cathryn Sleight, the marketing director for Allied Domecq UK, said the sponsorship was intended to get over the "cheeky and fun" side of Tia Lusso, which is being pitched as a light version of traditionally heavy cream liqueurs and targets 25- to 40-year-olds.
The campaign was a "core plank" of the plan to double the brand's market share, Ms Sleight said.
Elsewhere, analysts believe Allied Domecq is poised to up its offer for Australian producer Peter Lehmann Wines, and could spend an extra £5m to secure the business.
Said one analyst: "It's a very small deal by Allied's terms, but it does fill a strategically important gap." Allied Domecq hasoffered A$149m (£61m).