Pernod Ricard wants to build the cognac category by using its £2m sponsorship of the Grand National as a platform to grow awareness of the Martell brand. Although the spirit has been associated with the sporting event for 11 years, Pernod Ricard is keen to flex its marketing muscle to boost the brand, which it took on from Seagram just over a year ago. A range of activities and promotions have been planned around the event in April, including a national press advertising campaign. The ads will use the image of racing silks to tie in with the sponsorship and this theme will be rolled out to shelf barkers designed for the multiples and independent off-licences. Branded units will also be available for cash and carries. Over the weekend of the Grand National, a consumer sampling campaign will run in six cities, a tactic designed to emphasise the drink's presence around the main race, which Pernod Ricard claims is watched by 10 million people on TV in the UK alone. Tactical banners at the event and post-Grand National advertising will be used to keep the brand front of mind. Adriaan Eksteen, head of marketing for cognac and light spirits at Pernod Ricard UK, said: "Seagram was winding down the company and so this is the first year there has been a fully comprehensive plan for the brand. We are planning a campaign for the summer and an upweighted Christmas programme." Martell has secured the rights to sponsor the event for the next two years. Pernod Ricard said the brand was already well associated with the event but that it needed to do more to engage consumers. {{MARKETING }}