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Conspicuous Consumption

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This past Tuesday night, professional football player Terrell Owens was mingling and chilling with his crew at the Delano Hotel for Tommy Pooch's and Alan Roth's weekly dinner fete. The controversial wide receiver clutched a slender curly haired maiden in one hand and, in the other, a martini glass containing some sort of lime green alcoholic beverage.

Unbeknownst to Owens, he had been roped into a stealth marketing campaign put on by Pooch and Roth, who are the partners behind TAI Entertainment.

For the rest of the evening, Owens sipped happily on his Powertini, a cocktail consisting of energy drink Sweet Success and Stoli Elite vodka.

Welcome to the world of South Beach liquor branding. Pooch and Roth are just some of the high profile nightlife promoters who are inking deals with alcohol distributors to get their brands into top tier locales. Other party promoters pushing select spirits at their parties include Michael Capponi, as well as Supermarket Creative brainchildren Jose Ortiz and Michelle Leshem. The latter duo is currently working on a hush-hush event for Smirnoff, which recently won a blind tasting competition of 21 vodkas by The New York Times.

"We have an opportunity to not only get these liquor brands into the customers hands," Roth explains. "But we get everybody talking and reading about it when someone such as Jamie Foxx is seen drinking it at one of our parties."

That's what led Rene Armas, regional manager for liquor distributor Pernod Ricard USA, last year to push Stoli Elite, the most expensive vodka in the retail market at $70 a bottle and $300-plus in clubs. "Tommy and Alan have clientele that can afford [Stoli Elite]," Armas says. "We are getting exposure to top of the line a-listers, and that is always good."

In Owens's case, Roth had the Delano's waiters to inform the Dallas Cowboy wideout he was drinking Stoli Elite. So the next time Owens is in town and goes to a bar, he may see a bottle of Stoli Elite on the shelf and ask for it, Roth reasons. "I don't know that we're doing anything groundbreaking," he adds, "other than filing a niche that needs to be filled." -Francisco Alvarado

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