Senior Vice President- Marketing
Moët Hennessy USA
“Never stop. Never settle.” may be the theme of Hennessy Cognac’s advertising, but it also aptly describes Rodney Williams in his role as brand champion. His passion to reintroduce a 250 year old product to urban Millennial men not only resulted in a new strategic platform for the brand, but in transformational growth and record sales.
The Hennessy campaign acknowledges the continuous quest to exceed the limits of one’s potential and personifies this yearning for success as a “wild rabbit.” It asks, “What’s your wild rabbit?” and showcases celebrities who strike a different chord with 21- 35 year old men as they are both masterful at their crafts, but never satisfied in the pursuit of their goals. Among the first to share their wild rabbit aspirations were: Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino boxer and senator, and Martin Scorsese, the famous film director obsessed by perfection. Today, Nas, the hip hop star and son of jazz musician Olu Dara, talks of his passions beyond music.
The goal of “Never stop. Never settle.” is to emotionally connect with Hennessy’s core consumers at they are struggling to realize their own potential. Such sentiments are breakthrough for Cognac advertising, which tends to highlight wealth and success, rather than the act of striving—particularly if one is already accomplished.
Rodney Williams enjoys telling the story of how he described the campaign to the company’s CEO in France while he was still new in the marketing role. The CEO’s response was that it was either “genius or sheer madness,” and he wished him all the best.
Fortunately, it worked well, and the advertising campaign was instrumental in returning the brand to growth after four flat years. Hennessy remains the #1 selling Cognac brand in the US and the world. Rodney Williams continues to trail blaze for Hennessy, and recently was in the press with a new native advertising program to make the brand’s wild rabbit concept more accessible through content that tells a fuller story.
Prior to his role at Moët Hennessy, Rodney Williams served as SVP of Classics Brands at Jackson Family Wines (Kendall-Jackson). He also was SVP of Robert Mondavi Lifestyle Brands at Constellation Wines, where he oversaw the successful turnaround of Woodbridge. Before joining the wine business, Rodney headed the marketing team behind the innovative launch of OnStar for General Motors. He began his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson.